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Briefs (left)

Deal Reached to Name
A Victor in Haiti’s Election

By Ginger Thompson

The front-runner in last week’s presidential election will be declared the winner as part of an agreement by leaders of Haiti’s interim government to retabulate the votes, a high-ranking official of the Organization of American States said Wednesday night.

The agreement, to be announced Thursday, is a result of negotiations by the front-runner, Rene Preval, government officials, foreign diplomats and international observers, including the Organization of American States. Details were still being worked out, and a U.N. official cautioned that the deal could still fall apart.

The official from the Organization of American States, who insisted on anonymity because of the fragile nature of the agreement, said that loopholes in Haitian electoral law allow the government to discard an estimated 85,000 blank ballots included in the original tally. By excluding them, Preval’s lead would increase from 48.7 percent of the votes to slightly more than 51 percent.

Under election rules, the winner needs 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a run-off.

Olympics on NBC Struggles
For TV Ratings Gold

By Richard Sandomir and Bill Carter

NBC’s Olympic broadcasts have never faced the kind of strong counterprogramming that is being deployed by the “American Idol” series on the Fox network and other popular shows on ABC.

“Idol” has trounced the Winter Olympic Games twice and will face them three more times next week, starting Tuesday, the first night of women’s figure skating. ABC’s and Fox’s audacity underscores their belief that NBC, the No. 4 network in prime time, is vulnerable, even during the mighty Olympics.

On Tuesday, two days after ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” outrated the Olympics, “Idol” attracted 27 million viewers from 8 to 9 p.m., crushing NBC’s 15.4 million.

On Wednesday, “Idol” overwhelmed the Olympics with 28.3 million viewers, nearly doubling NBC’s 14.3 million from 8 to 9 p.m.

Although NBC officials said they fully expected “Idol” to defeat the Olympics by wide margins, they were surprised that “House,” the medical drama, retained as many “Idol” viewers as it did. The 20.1 million “House” viewers nearly tied NBC’s 20.9 million from 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern.

Icahn Dropping Effort
To Break Time Warner Up

By Richard Siklos and Andrew Ross Sorkin

Carl C. Icahn, the financier, is backing away from his attempt to break Time Warner into pieces, looking instead to negotiate some smaller changes at the company in exchange for dropping his acrimonious campaign, according to people involved in the discussion.

If Icahn and Time Warner Chairman Richard D. Parsons come to terms, Icahn would shelve the fight for control of Time Warner, with the backing of three investment funds and the investment banker Bruce Wasserstein of Lazard.

Icahn and his backers control 3.3 percent of Time Warner’s shares.

People close to Icahn and Parsons said the two men were speaking Thursday, and Icahn had contacted Parsons throughout the week with a list of proposals.

Assuming Icahn and Parsons are able to come to terms, the many properties of Time Warner — including Warner Brothers, HBO, CNN, America Online and Time Magazine — would stay together.