By James Hibberd
Updated March 15, 2012 at 04:15 PM EDT
Jermaine Jones
Credit: Fox

Fox’s American Idol took full advantage of the drama behind dismissing contestant Jermaine Jones for having an undisclosed criminal history Wednesday night. With national headlines playing up the exodus, host Ryan Seacrest teased the unusual ejection at the top of the show, then eventually showed audiences pre-taped footage where Jones was called into producers’ offices and confronted with the news.

But one of the most unusual contestant booting ceremonies in Idol history didn’t boost the show’s ratings, which were down 5 percent from last week. That percentage drop matched TV’s overall decline in viewing levels compared to last week, which often happens after the Daylight Savings Time change — especially between 8 and 10 p.m.

The two-hour Idol (17.9 million viewers, 5.3 adults 18-49 rating) nonetheless won the night.

CBS had Survivor (10.3 million, 2.9) and Criminal Minds (11.3 million, 2.8), both taking hits this week, but CSI (11.5 million, 2.7) was up slightly.

Most of ABC’s comedy block was down between 8 and 19 percent to season lows — The Middle (7 million, 2.1), Suburgatory (6.3 million, 2.1), Modern Family (10.5 million, 4.4). But Happy Endings (5.5 million, 2.4) was up 20 percent.

NBC’s comedy block spiraled to series lows: Whitney (4 million, 1.4) and Are You There, Chelsea? (2.9 million, 1.0). Rock Center (2.6 million, 0.6) hit a low.