Question: Can you tell me how many shows that premiered last season are still on the air? For example, does Fox have any returning shows that premiered last season that are coming back? If none of them is, then is that because the shows were not given enough time to draw an audience, or because they were scheduled poorly, or because they really did not have a chance because they were just terrible? Can you comment on all the networks using the above criteria? IMO, the problem is that shows are canceled prematurely.
Answer: I'll start with Fox, since that seems to be your primary gripe. Keep in mind its schedule was a mess, with summer shows and reality filler bleeding into fall, and many shows not starting until much later. Of the fall shows, only House, a genuine hit, survived, along with negligible late-season starters American Dad and Stacked (but for how long?). Most of what Fox aired was truly terrible (Jonny Zero, Point Pleasant), so I think Fox is better off this fall with newer, more promising shows than they were a year ago.

ABC had a great season: Desperate Housewives, Lost, Boston Legal, Rodney and Wife Swap return, along with midseason hit Grey's Anatomy (and on the back burner, Jake in Progress).

CBS renewed only one show from last fall, the no-brainer CSI: NY, but its development was especially poor last year (Listen Up, Center of the Universe, dr. vegas), and the network is sitting on so many hits it barely mattered. Also returning: midseason's Numbers.

NBC had a dreadful season, bombing out with everything yet still keeping Joey. One bright spot: midseason's Medium.

UPN launched and renewed Veronica Mars, but Kevin Hill never lived up to its promise.

None of WB's four fall shows survived; Jack & Bobby's failure was the most regrettable. What's worse, the hideous Living with Fran arrived at midseason and was renewed.

Finally, to address your point that "shows are canceled prematurely": Many are, and just as often, many deserve the quick axe. The failure rate in TV is staggering, but it's true that for only nine of some 30 shows to survive looks pretty bad. (Many of these, though, were reality shows that flopped fast if they even made it to air.)

[Editor's Note: If you're new to Ask Matt's twice-a-week format and missed Monday's column, you'll find it here.]