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Syndie Suffers Post-Sweeps Depression

King World's Martha Stewart Living was down significantly for the week ending March 14 after being dropped by the Viacom station group.

With the show's coverage of the country down from 89% to 61%, Nielsen "broke out" the show from the national ratings. In the 61% of the country seeing Martha, the diva took a dive, down 36% from the previous week to a 0.7.

The breakout days will not be included in the show's average for the season and it is likely to be broken out every day for the rest of the season unless King World can reclear the show so that it covers 80% of the U.S.

Martha wasn't alone, however. Most syndicated shows lost ground for the week as advertising and promotion faded and many programs slipped into repeat episodes after the February sweeps. Average viewing declined by 476,000 households from the week before and was down by almost 1.3 million households from two weeks ago.

Only two of 14 talk shows managed to buck the general downtrend. Twentieth's newcomer, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, was up 11% to a 1.0 and Universal's veteran Jerry Springer was up 9% to a 2.7. King World's Oprah, the top talker, had the biggest decline in the group, down 14% to a genre-leading 6.1. Year-to-year, the queen of talk was down 2%.

Elsewhere in daytime, court shows held up well, with five of the seven higher. Paramount's Judge Judy, the leading jurist, was up 2% to a 5.1, but down 4% from last year at this time. Paramount's Judge Joe Brown gained 3% to a 3.6 and was up 3% from last year. Twentieth's Divorce Court slipped 4% to a 2.5 and was down 19% year-to-year. Warner Bros.' People's Court was up 9% to a 2.5, tying Divorce Court for third place and up 14% from last year. Warner Bros.' Judge Greg Mathis, up 5% to a 2.3, had the biggest year-to-year increase, up 15%. Sony's Judge Hatchett was up 5% to a 2.0 and up 11% over last year. Twentieth's Texas Justice was unchanged at a 2.0, down 13% from last year.

 In access, Paramount's Entertainment Tonight hit a milestone of sorts, running its streak as the number-one magazine to 400 weeks, or just under 8 years. ET  led the field with a 6.1, off 3% from the week before. In second place, King World's Inside Edition was unchanged at a 3.7. NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood was down 6% to a 2.9, while Warner Bros.' Extra! was right behind, gaining 4% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.' Celebrity Justice was up 9% to a 1.2.

Among games, all of the top five were lower, with King World's Wheel of Fortune slipping 6% to an 8.9. King World's Jeopardy dipping 1% to a 7.5, Buena Vista's Who Wants To Be A Millionairedown 5% to a 3.7, Tribune's Family Feud off 5% to a 2.1 and King World's Hollywood Squares down 9% to a 2.1.

In off-net action, none of the top-five were up. Sony's Seinfeld led the sitcoms with a 6.5, unchanged week to week.