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News at 11 is a tight race

Friday, November 30, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pittsburghers may not close their day with WTAE's news -- third at 11 p.m. in the November sweeps -- but they prefer Channel 4's early morning, 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.

At a time when ABC is weathering a dismal season, even contemplating whether "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" will be back next fall, that is good news for WTAE.

When comparing this November with last November, it's evident that viewership is up -- due, no doubt, to the ever-changing story in Afghanistan, anthrax scares and related news. People weren't tuning in to listen to school closings or snow advisories, since November proved to be milder than most.

In a month when some races were tighter than Britney Spears' hip-huggers, KDKA squeaked out a win at 11 p.m. over second-place WPXI -- the CBS affiliate earned an 11.7 rating and 21 share, vs. the NBC station's 11.5 rating and 21 share. A rating represents a percentage of TV households, while a share indicates the percentage of sets in use.

The November ratings released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research are household ratings that reflect more a measure of popularity than a basis for advertising rates. TV commercials generally are sold on demographic ratings, reflecting the age and gender of viewers. Those numbers won't be available for several weeks.

At the network level, "Friends" brought Brad Pitt to the Thanksgiving table, CBS welcomed Carol Burnett back to the fold for one lucrative (and surprisingly popular) night, Fox scored with "Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace" and ABC tapped into season's greetings with "The Santa Clause" starring Tim Allen.

WPXI and WTAE also tried to attract viewers by running cash giveaway contests while KDKA, as it does year-round, broadcasts the drawing of the Pennsylvania Lottery numbers.

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