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July 4 Week a Downer for Syndication

As usual, syndication ratings fell sharply in the July 4 holiday week, with many shows recording new season lows in the Nielsen ratings.

In addition to the vacations associated with the rockets' red glare, there were the rocket serves of Roger Federer to contend with. Wimbledon preemptions took their toll all week.

In addition, in an apples-to-apples comparison the top daytime court and talk shows were down by double digits compared to their ratings in the same low-rated week last year.

The verdict for Judge Judy, the top court show, was a new season low of 3.9, down 13% from the week before and down 15% from last year at this time. Second-place Judge Joe Brown was off 7% for the week to a new season low 2.7 and down 13% from last year.

There was a tie for third between People's Court with a 2.6, down 4% for the week and year, and Divorce Court, which was actually up 8% for the week and even compared to the same week last year.

Among talk shows, Oprah fell to a season low 4.7, it's fourth season low in the past five weeks. The top talker was down 10% from the week before and down 15% from last year. Dr. Phil also hit a season low of 3.9, down 9% for the week and 11% from last year.

Among the freshman talkers, Tyra Banks was the leader for a fifth week in a row with a 1.4, even with the week before, while, Martha, an NBC Universal-produced show with a bunch of NBC stations as its core constituency, was, literally a nonfactor. That because NBC Wimbledon preemptions resulted in at least 10% station coverage drops (New York is 7% by itself) all five days. If a show loses more than 10% of its station coverage, Nielsen factors out the rating for that broadcast, which in this case meant all week.

Live with Regis & Kelly was down 6% to a 3.1, and off 9% from a year ago. Maury was up 4% to a 2.7, down 7% from last year, however. Jerry Springer rose 6% to a 1.9, down 14% from last year. Montel dropped 11% to a 1.7, down 26% from last year.

In access, six of the top eight off-net sitcoms--all but King of the Hill and Frasier--hit new season lows.

Leader Everybody Loves Raymond dropped 6% for the week to a 4.7, down 11% from last year; Seinfeld, at a 4.4, was down 4% for the week and off 15% from a year ago; Friends, which was reprocessed from the week before and so had no rating for that week, got a 3.2, down 30% from last year at this time; That '70s Show was fourth at a 3.0. down 6% for the week, though up 11% from last year (it added a cable run this season which is factored in).

There was a three-way tie for sixth at a 2.1 rating among King of Queens, down 9% for the week and year; Malcolm in the Middle, down 5% for the week and down 22% from last year; and Frasier, up 5% for the week and up 11% from last year.

In access magazine action, all of the magazines had new season lows, but at least the top tier held up well compared to last year at this time. Entertainment Tonight, the top mag seemingly in perpetuity, was off 13% for the week to a 4.1, but down only 2% from last year. Inside Edition, at a 2.9, was down 6% for the week but only 3% from last year. The Insider was off 12% for the week to a 2.3, down 4% from last year.

And the week had a little something extra in store for Extra, which edged ahead of Access Hollywood for the first time since the week of Sept. 12, despite a double-digit decline. Extra was down 10% to a 1.8, week to week and year to year, but that was still enough to beat out Access Hollywood's 1.7, down 23% week to week and year to year.