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Spring Forward, Syndies Fall Back

Syndication ratings fell during the week ending April 11 as syndicated shows faced triple-threat competition from Condoleeza Rice, daylight savings time and religious holidays.

Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission April 8 generated widespread preemptions, while travels for Easter and Passover and longer days kept people away from their TVs. As a result, average viewing declined by approximately 1,250,000 households, or 7%, from the prior week.

The one group to escape relatively unscathed was the weekly hours, where three of the top four shows grew by double-digits.

Paramount's top-rated Entertainment Tonight Weekend had the largest increase, surging 14% from the prior week to a 3.3. It was its highest rating in six weeks and a 14% improvement year-to-year. Dawn Wells, who played Maryann on the TV classic, Gilligan's Island, guest-hosted a look-back at such TV classics as I Love Lucy, Dynasty and, of course, Gilligan.

Other winners were Tribune's third-place Andromeda, up 12% to 1.9, although still down 14% year-to-year. In fourth place, NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood Weekend rose 13% to a 1.8, up 38% from last year. Twentieth's off-net drama, The Practice, held in second place, but at 2.0 slipped 9% week-to-week and year-to-year.

As usual, access shows were hit hardest by the time change. The top-three access games and magazines all dropped by double-digits.

Among the off-net sitcoms, Sony's Seinfeld was down 11% to a 5.6, Warner Bros.' Friends slid 8% to a 5.4, King World's Everybody Loves Raymond was down 9% to a 5.0 and Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's That 70s Show dropped 11% to a 3.4.

In daytime, court and talk shows were both weak. The double-digit court show downers were Twentieth's Divorce Court, which took a 12% hit to a new season low of a 2.3 and Sony's Judge Hatchett, which slid 15% to a 1.7, equalling its season low. Top jurist Paramount's Judge Judy edged down 4% to a 4.6.

Most of the talk shows were down, with Paramount's Montel Williams skidding 15% to a 2.2, matching its lowest number of the season. Universal's Jerry Springer Show dove 13% to a new season low 2.0. Among the rookies, Warner Bros.' Sharon Osbourne was down 9% to a new season-low 1.0, and King World's Living It Up! with Ali & Jack also was down 9% to a 1.0.

King World's top talker, Oprah, was down 5% to a 5.8.