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NBC Lays Down Law (& Order)

NBC won the Nielsen Media Research ratings race Tuesday night in the key 18-49 demo with a 4.4 rating/12 share average, primarily on the strength of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In fact the network only won one half hour between 8 and 10 before cleaning up with a 5.5/15 for SVU, compared to a 3.4/p for second-place ABC's NYPD Blue, and a 3.1/9 for CBS' Judging Amy.

Striking a blow for nostalgia, the winner at 8-9 p.m. was ABC's extended airing of the evergreen A Charlie Brown Christmas, which averaged a 4.8/13 at 8-9. The last half-hour of Biggest Loser won for NBC from 9 to 9:30 with a 4.6/11, but the second half hour of CBS' Amazing Race built some momentum to take the 9:30-10 half hour with a 4.9/12.

ABC took second for the night in the 18-49 demo with a 4.1/11, its best non-election Tuesday night 18-49 rating in a year, according to the network.

CBS was third with a 3.8/10 for Race, Amy and Navy NCIS.

Fox came in fourth with a 2.3/6 for Rebel Billionaire (1.8/5), which has failed to gain much traction, and House, the critically acclaimed hour drama, which did a respectable 2.8/7 and built from its first half hour to its second.

WB won the battle of the netlets with a 1.5/4 for Gilmore Girls and High School Reunion. UPN finished sixth with a .9/2 for All of Us, Eve, and Veronica Mars.