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Matthews' Steady Rise

NBC Enterprises'The Chris Matthews Show
is syndicated, but, after five months on the air, the weekly public-affairs half-hour is competitive with its network counterparts in many markets.

To do that, the show's producers have made staying up-to-date a priority. On Feb. 1, after learning of the Columbia space shuttle tragedy, executive producer Nancy Nathan and senior producer Matthew Saal decided to scrap the show they had shot the day before and do an entirely new one on the news of the day. Four top-notch journalists—The New York Times' David Sanger, Science Magazine's Andrew Lawler, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell and Newsweek's Howard Fineman—were brought in on short notice. By that afternoon, stations had an up-to-date news-analysis show that was competitive with shows like ABC's This Week, CBS's Face the Nation
and Fox's Fox News Sunday.

Perhaps that's why the show's national ratings have been growing each month since its launch in September. It launched to a 0.9 national Nielsen rating in households and has ticked up each month, finishing February with a 1.9.

NBC Enterprises has renewed it on stations covering 78% of the country. Besides NBC's 14 O&Os and many Hearst- Argyle stations, NBC has renewed Matthews on the Post-Newsweek, Belo, Scripps Howard, Gannett, Raycom, Young, Hubbard, Liberty, Cox, Granite and Dispatch station groups, according to Barry Wallach, executive vice president, NBC Enterprises.

In local markets, the show has shown consistent growth since November sweeps: On WNBC-TV New York on Sundays at 11:30 a.m., ratings have improved 19%; on WMAQ-TV Chicago Sundays at 11 a.m., 67%; on KNTV-TV San Francisco Sundays at 9 a.m., 53%.

The show also has helped many local stations improve time-period performance over last year. In Matthews' home market of Washington, D.C., where the show airs on NBC O&O WRC-TV on Sunday at 10 a.m., the show is averaging a 3.9 household rating in the metered markets. Recently, it edged past CBS's Face the Nation
by 0.1 ratings point, beat ABC's This Week
by 0.6 point and clobbered Fox News Sunday
by more than 2.5 points.