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TV ratings are status quo

Friday, December 03, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

The return of Don Cannon didn't help or hurt KDKA-TV in the November ratings -- the station's performance in the 6 a.m. hour was identical to what it achieved a year ago. Ratings for WTAE and WPXI morning newscasts were both up with WTAE remaining in the lead.

Morning is the only time period to see major changes in anchors from November 1998 on both local and national news programs.

Adding Bryant Gumbel helped improve CBS's morning ratings in Pittsburgh, but the network remains in third place. "Good Morning America" took the No. 1 spot, while "Today" was in second, even though it's the No. 1 morning show nationwide.

The ratings released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research are household ratings that reflect more a measure of popularity rather than a basis for advertising rates. TV commercials are generally sold on demographic ratings, which won't be available for several weeks.

In its ratings book, Nielsen flags contests, including those during newscasts on WPXI and WTAE, because they may influence ratings. Lottery drawings on KDKA, which may also influence ratings, are not flagged because they're telecast year-round rather than only during sweeps months.

More viewers were tuned in at noon in November 1999 than in November 1998, and all three stations managed to improve their ratings. KDKA retains its lock on the No. 1 spot, while WTAE stayed put in second place with WPXI coming in third.

Back-to-back editions of "Judge Judy" on WPXI won the 4 p.m. hour ("Oprah Winfrey Show" on WTAE was second, "Rosie O'Donnell" on KDKA was No. 3) and helped propel WPXI to a win at 5 p.m. KDKA came in second with WTAE third. A year ago KDKA was on top, followed by WTAE and a third-placed WPXI.

KDKA retained its lead at 6 p.m. (WTAE was second) but both WPXI and WTAE were up compared to a year ago, while KDKA declined.

At 10 p.m. WPGH's "10 O'Clock News" hour was off from its performance a year ago when it was still a half-hour newscast. The first half-hour this November generated lower ratings than the full half-hour newscast did in 1998.

A stronger CBS prime-time lineup helped No. 1 KDKA improve its position at 11 p.m. NBC affiliate WPXI also improved its late news ratings. But the success of ABC's "Who Wants to be A Millionaire" didn't have a halo effect: WTAE was in third place with lower ratings than a year ago.

"Millionaire" didn't help WTAE's prime-time average either, but ABC sent its affiliates a ratings report that showed WTAE drew the highest overnight ratings for "Millionaire" during sweeps. According to ABC, "Millionaire" on WTAE achieved a 19.8 rating and 29 share average for the 18 nights the show aired. ABC stations in Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Chicago and Portland were among the other top stations for "Millionaire."

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