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CBS Conquers Thursday Night, Again

UPN gets a piece of the action, too

CBS extended its reign as
Thursday-night leader into the new 2005-06 TV season last week, winning
television's most lucrative night with the help of CSI and Survivor. Sister
Viacom-owned network UPN is getting a piece of Thursday action, too, with its
highly anticipated new comedy Everybody Hates
Chris
finishing second in its time slot and outdelivering
the more established, young-skewing competition in Fox's The
O.C.
and NBC's
Joey.

The night before belonged to ABC as Lost continued to thrill in its
season-two debut with 23.5 million viewers and a 10.2 rating/25 share in
18-49s. And NBC managed to win Tuesday night thanks to the strong premieres of
My Name Is Earl and
Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit
. Here's B&C's
scorecard:

ABC: Even before
Desperate
Housewives
returned, ABC got off to a hot start.
Lost delivered monster
ratings against stiff competition, and most viewers stayed put for new thriller
Invasion. The network's
luck is tested this week with the premieres of freshman shows
Commander in Chief and
Nightstalker.

CBS: Once again,
CSI and Survivor are
unstoppable. The forensics drama nabbed network TV's highest premiere ratings
yet, with 29 million viewers and a 10.2/25 in 18-49s. New drama
Criminal Minds and
NCIS also started off
strong. CBS' new Friday-night duo of Threshold and Ghost Whisperer gets its first test
this week.

FOX: After just two episodes, laggard
legal comedy Head
Cases
was axed, earning it the distinction of being the
first cancelled new show. But other new entries Bones and Prison Break are promising, and
medical drama House is
sizzling in its sophomore season, averaging more than 15 million viewers.

NBC: Mixed results for the Peacock in
week one. My Name Is Earl lived up to its
hype, with 15.2 million viewers and a 6.6/16 in 18-49s. But
Martha Stewart had a stroke of Earl's bad
luck: Her edition of The
Apprentice
limped out Sept. 21, with 2.3/7 in 18-49 and
7.1 million viewers. New military drama E-Ring and workhorses
Law & Order and
ER got off solidly.

UPN: Everybody Hates Chris, the season's most lauded new
show, premiered with 7.8 million viewers and a 3.2/9 in 18-49s, stellar numbers
for UPN. The Tyra Banks wannabes of
America's Next Top
Model
strutted out to record ratings for its fifth
incarnation. But the trick is getting more Chris viewers
to stick around for the other Thursday-night sitcoms.

THE WB: So far, the network's push
for more 18-34s is stalled. New Jerry Bruckheimer-produced crime show
Just Legal,
co-starring Don Johnson, and comedy
Twins, with
Melanie Griffith, got off to lackluster
starts. Returning shows such as Gilmore
Girls
are healthy but appeal to The WB's already loyal
young set.

Verizon Moves Into Cable TV

Telco debuts service in Texas towns

Verizon launched its fiber-optic
cable-TV service, called FiOS, in 8,800 homes in Keller, Texas, last week. The
service will be available in other Texas towns later this year, followed by
Florida, Virginia and California.

Expanded basic, with 180 music and video channels, will cost $39.95
per month. Basic service is $12.95 a month for local-broadcast, public,
education and government channels.

FiOS will carry, among other things, 12 channels owned by
The Walt Disney Co., including
ABC Family, Disney
Channel
and ESPN. Disney also gave
Verizon permission to carry its 12 ABC stations. FiOS will use Disney-related
broadband, pay-per-view, Spanish-language programming and VOD offerings.

The deal included an understanding that Disney and Verizon will work
together to battle piracy in FiOS' subscriber base.

Also included: a sports package with 15 channels for $5.95, a movie
package with 45 channels of Starz, Encore, Showtime and The Movie Channel for
$11.95, and a Spanish language package of 24 channels for $11.95.

PBS, 'World News Tonight' Lead Emmys

PBS was the big winner at the News
and Documentary Emmys, collecting six at the National
Television Academy
awards banquet in New York on Sept. 19.

On the eve of the late ABC anchor
Peter Jennings' memorial service, his
World News Tonight topped
all evening newscasts with three Emmys, helping ABC to a three-way tie for
second place in the statue totals with four. The range of ABC stories saluted
and their international datelines—Iraq (war), Darfur (genocide), Beslan
(school massacre)—also clearly reflect Jennings' imprint.

CBS and NBC also collected four awards apiece, including one to
Dan Rather's newscast for its Enron
reporting. Documentary powerhouse HBO
collected three, Cinemax two,
Discovery Times Channel and
Discovery Channel two each, and
History, MSNBC and Sundance one
each.—J.E.

Fanfare for the Uncommon Man

The memorial for late ABC anchorman
Peter Jennings, held Sept. 20 at Carnegie
Hall, was, in a word, sincere.

That was the trait about Jennings most of the speakers spoke to, along
with the apparent fact that he was an A-1 sentimentalist and a great believer
in a moral code to life.

His son Chris Jennings said, “The
slightest achievement by his children, or even his dog, could move him to
tears.” His daughter, Elizabeth, quoted from
a speech Jennings gave at her high school graduation: “Once you are clear
what your values are, you must always stand up for them.” —P.J.
Bednarski

CNBC Chairman Departs

CNBC's Pamela
Thomas-Graham
will leave the company for a job as group president of
Liz Claiborne Inc.

President and CEO of CNBC for four years beginning in 2001, she was
eased into a strategic-planning and brand-extending role as chairman in
February when Mark Hoffman was brought in as
president/CEO to oversee the ratings-challenged business news net. The chairman
post will not be filled.—A.B.

Leavitt Leaves TV Academy

Academy of Television Arts &
Sciences
President/COO Todd Leavitt
has resigned from his post overseeing ATAS and its foundation and will leave as
the senior staff executive by the end of the year.

Leavitt, who was nearing the end of his three-year contract in
October, waited until after Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony to
announce his departure, expressing a desire to return to the commercial sector
of the television industry and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities in areas of
emerging media technologies.

He will stay on for the next few months to assist ATAS with the
transition, including an upcoming retreat for the group's leaders in October.
ATAS will form a search committee to find a new executive to run the
group.—J.B.

Emergency Response Gets Full Court Press

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and in the face of Hurricane Rita, a
new, pan-media, national-local coordinated emergency-communications response
has become a priority in Washington.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) Sept. 22
proposed the Communications Security Act of 2005, which would require the
Department of Homeland Security and the
FCC to work together to develop backup
communications systems using satellites, wireless and terrestrial services.

“Our first responders make the greatest commitment to our country by
protecting us in times of disaster,” says Kerry. “It is unacceptable that,
four years after 9/11, we are still putting them on the frontlines without
reliable communications equipment.”

Also on Sept. 22, FCC Chairman Kevin
Martin
in testimony to the Senate Commerce
Committee
, recommended a flexible emergency-communications system
for first responders that would employ various media.

Before the day was done, a bipartisan block of Commerce Committee
members had introduced the Warning, Alerts and Response Network (or WARN) bill.
It would allocate a quarter billion dollars to develop a system of
geographically targeted alerts across TV, radio, cable, satellite, Blackberrys,
cellphones and non-traditional media. —John Eggerton

'Affair' Ending; 'Geraldo at Large' Once
Again

Twentieth Television last week
announced the long-rumored cancellation of A
Current Affair
, which will be replaced with
Geraldo at Large, a live,
first-run strip hosted by Fox News Channel's
Geraldo Rivera.

The new show will be produced in New York and distributed by Twentieth
Television. It will be slotted in Current Affair's time
periods on the Fox O&Os when
Affair goes off the air next month.

Fox has been expected to give its owned stations a more FNC-like
branding given the success of its cable news network and Fox News Channel
architect Roger Ailes' taking over the
station group.

The show, which has been on for 26 weeks through last Friday, averaged
a 2.5 rating/5 share in weighted metered-markets for primary runs. The show was
down 26% from its average lead-in and down 22% from its year-ago time period
average. —Ben Grossman/J.E.

Herwitz Exits Fox

After almost 20 years with the Fox Television
Station Group
, President Tom
Herwitz
is leaving the company.

His departure comes just weeks after Fox
News
chief Roger Ailes took over
the group following the departure of former News
Corp.
Deputy COO and station group Chairman Lachlan Murdoch. Former Ailes lieutenant
Jack Abernethy arrived last year to be the
group's CEO over Herwitz.—A.R./J.E.

The WB Marketing VP Promoted

Nineteen-year Warner Bros. veteran
Lisa Gregorian will lead a new group as
executive VP, worldwide marketing, of the recently created

Warner Bros. Television Group. She will work
with the studio's internal television marketing teams, as well as with
networks and stations, on marketing opportunities for its TV
properties.—Jim Benson

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