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Early Show Regains No. 3 Spot

New York— Although it still trails its broadcast competition, CBS News'Early Show is back ahead of cable's Fox News Channel in the morning. For the week of April 14-18, The Early Show
averaged 2.7 million viewers to Fox & Friends' 1.9 million. Fox had edged out CBS in recent weeks. NBC's Today reigned with 6 million viewers, and Good Morning America on ABC averaged 4.9 million viewers.

NASA: Evidence Supports 35% Cap

Washington— To counter network arguments that the FCC has no choice but to raise or eliminate the 35% cap on TV-household reach, the National Affiliated Stations Alliance says an increase faces higher legal obstacles than retention. "A decision to modify or repeal is subject to precisely the same public-interest standard and judicial review as a decision to keep the cap," NASA wrote to the commission Friday. "A decision to modify the cap or eliminate must be justified by the evidence," which "was shown to support retention."

Belo Stations' Cash Flow Off 5%

Dallas— Belo's TV-station group posted a 5% drop in operating cash flow, to $49.2 million, in the first quarter on a 1% revenue gain to $141.6 million. The company cited tough comparisons with last year's first quarter, which had the Salt Lake City Olympics, as well as some ad cancellations due to the war in Iraq.

FCC Delay on Set-Tops Pleases Cable

Washington— The cable industry, led by the NCTA, is praising an April 25 FCC decision postponing the ban on new integrated set-top boxes once set for Jan. 1, 2005. The new deadline will be July 1, 2006, but the FCC held out the possibility that, depending on how the market develops, the ban may never have to be instituted. The ban would require cable operators to separate security devices from electronic-program-guide equipment. The aim has been to create a retail market for set-top boxes rather than leaving the devices in the domain of cable operators.