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Sweeps favor Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, KDKA

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Paging Dr. Phil. Paging Dr. Phil.

That might be Oprah's reaction upon seeing the Pittsburgh TV ratings for the month of November, which placed the longtime talk-show host third behind a double dose of "Judge Judy" on WPXI and KDKA's 4 p.m. newscast, which took the slot once occupied by Rosie O'Donnell.

The contest for viewers at 4 p.m., an important time of the day because it either starts or precedes the early-evening news, is a close one.

KDKA's strong showing at 4 p.m. was accompanied by first-place finishes at noon, 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., while WTAE's early-bird and 5 p.m. newscasts were No. 1. Another clear November sweeps winner: Dr. Phil, whose no-nonsense advice show was first at 10 a.m. for WTAE with a 6.5 rating and 21 share, beating Montel Williams on WPXI (3.5/12) and beleaguered Martha Stewart, in third with 2.2/7.

The rating represents the percentage of TV households in this market, while the share reflects percentage of sets in use.

November sweeps, a period marked on the networks by prime-time specials and guest star appearances, ended the day before Thanksgiving but, because of the holiday, were finalized yesterday.

The November ratings released 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.

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 such as November, February and May.

KDKA's resurgence in the ratings follows the advent of its 4 p.m. newscast in late July. That newscast has performed well in the ratings since its inception and has been a much stronger lead-in for the 5 p.m. news than "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" last year. Improved ratings from CBS's prime-time lineup leading into the 11 p.m. news also helped boost KDKA and may have given a lift to David Letterman, too.

In a snapshot look at syndicated programs: At 9 a.m., "Regis & Kelly" scored a 6.7 rating/22 share and outmuscled the third hour of the "Today" show, 4.4/14, and "Divorce Court," 2.1/7, and the new "Millionaire," 2/7. Caroline Rhea's new talk show, airing at 11 a.m. on WPXI, finished third behind powerhouse "The Price Is Right" on KDKA and "The View" on WTAE.

At 7 p.m., "Jeopardy" edged out the "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather and "Inside Edition," while Letterman was No. 1 at 11:35 p.m., nosing out Jay Leno's late-night show and ABC's newsy lineup.

Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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