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CBS set up for sweeps victory

CBS has virtually clinched the November sweep in overall audience, but NBC and Fox enter the final three nights of the special ratings derby in a neck-and-neck battle for the key demographic of viewers aged 18 to 49.

Reuters reports CBS's first November victory in total viewers since 1998 was assured with a strong second-place finish on Thursday thanks to Survivor and CSI and a big Saturday win boosted by the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Factoring in preliminary Nielsen figures for Wednesday through Saturday, CBS led NBC by more than 600,000 viewers with four nights to be counted (13.46 million vs. 12.84 million).

In a titght battle for adults 18-49, NBC held a slim advantage over Fox through Saturday, with a projected rating of 5.06 compared with 4.92. Fox was expected to pull even or nearly catch the NBC Sunday behind the television premiere of Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, but the final three nights of the sweep figure to favor NBC.