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News nets top weekly cable charts

Not surprisingly, news networks dominated the weekly cable Nielsens, with CNN topping the charts in prime time and on a total day basis.

CNN and Fox News Channel ranked first and second in prime and total day scores while MSNBC tied for third in both time periods. Lifetime tied MSNBC in prime time and Nickelodeon ranked third in total day ratings.

After running neck-and-neck with FNC, the CNN topped the charts with a 3.6 household rating, beating FNC's 2.5 by more than a full ratings point. Both networks are more accustomed to the 0.6-0.7 range. Lifetime and MSNBC scored a 2.0.

CNN aired 47 of the 50 top-rated "shows" in cable last week following the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, though some of the distinct segments were as short as six minutes.

Some entertainment networks got badly hurt as viewers stayed glued to the news. ESPN dropped 83% from a 2.3 to a 0.4, partly because games were cancelled. MTV dropped for a 76% from Video Music Awards-fueled 2.1 to a 0.5. SoapNet dropped 67% from a 0.6 to a 0.2.

Despite picking up a BBC feed from sister network BBC America, TLC dropped 33% to a 0.9. - John M. Higgins