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Idol Spoiler Spikes Ratings

ABC affiliate KTVX Salt Lake City spoiled the surprise for any viewers who happened to be watching ABC while waiting for the live-to-tape finale of American Idol last Wednesday.

At 8:15 and 8:45 mountain time, KTVX ran news crawls announcing that Fantasia Barrino had been crowned the third American Idol, even though the winner wasn't going to be revealed on the Fox O&O KSTU until about 9:45.

Because the show is shot in Los Angeles to air live on the East Coast, the name of the winner is available via wire service and Internet soon thereafter, meaning Western fans can discover the winner prior to the show.

But people who were watching ABC, or surfing it on the way to somewhere else, were upset that the station revealed Fantasia's win. "We received many angry viewers calls, e-mails and a fax," says Renai Bodley, KSTU's vice president of news. "I referred them all to the ABC affiliate."

Bodley says that KSTU's ratings spiked both times KTVX ran the crawl. "I would like to thank them for driving our ratings up," she said. "If any station in our market had done it, I would prefer it was KTVX, " added KSTU GM Tim Ermish, "since they are the least-watched news in the market. But we do appreciate them promoting our network and station." KTVX had no comment.