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Syndies: Cable news took bite out of May sweep

Most of syndication's top-tier programs -- such as King World Productions' Oprah,
Paramount Television's Entertainment Tonight and King World's Wheel of
-- had no trouble maintaining leadership in their genres as the May
sweep, covering April 24-May 21, came to a close.

But there was some year-to-year slippage as shows faced stronger post-war
competition from cable news, particularly Fox News Channel, which was up 67%
in daytime compared to last May.

Court shows were among the strongest performers in daytime, although leader
Paramount's Judge Judy was down 12% from last May to a 5.0 sweep average.

Still, it remained well ahead of Paramount's second-place Judge Joe
, which was up 3% from last year to a 3.5 average.

Twentieth Television's Divorce Court remained third with a 2.9, up 7%.

Twentieth's Texas Justice was unchanged from its year-ago 2.2 average.

Warner Bros.' People's Court earned a 2.1, up 5% from last year.

Warner Bros.' Judge Greg Mathis did not air as an hour-long
show last May, but it was up 19% to 1.9 since it became an hour last September.

Sony Pictures Television's Judge Hatchett slipped 6% to 1.7.

Talk was mixed, although eight shows scored rating averages of 1.5 or better.

Oprah breezed through the May sweep with a 6.2, up 7% from last
year and 27% higher than King World's second-place Dr. Phil. Dr.
, the top first-run rookie, averaged a formidable 4.9 although that was
down 11% from the February sweep.

Buena Vista Television's Live with Regis and Kelly was up 9% from last May to
3.8. Universal Television's Maury dropped 6% to 3.1.

Paramount's Montel Williams was off 4% to 2.5.

Universal's The Jerry Springer Show lost 8% to 2.4.

Sony's Ricki Lake fell 11% to 1.6. Warner Bros.' Jenny Jones
sank 21% to 1.5.

Elsewhere, most of the first-run rookie strips, like Dr. Phil, lost
ground from the most recent sweep, but a couple of newcomers resisted the

Warner Bros.' Celebrity Justice held steady sweep-to-sweep at a 1.3
average, airing mostly in late-night slots.

The show also finally scored its year-two renewal, which has been slow in

Twentieth's Good Day Live -- which went national in January after a slow
rollout -- was up 11% from February to a 1.0 average.

On the downside, Buena Vista's rookie game show, Who Wants to Be a
, slipped 9% from the prior sweep to a 3.2 average.

Sony's Pyramid lost 5% to 1.9.

NBC Enterprises' The John Walsh Show dropped 13% to 1.3.

Looking at shows that aren't expected back next season, Warner Bros.' The
Caroline Rhea Show
fell 10% to 0.9 and Paramount's Life
plunged 17% to 0.5.

In access, the magazines were the only genre without at least one show with a
double-digit decline.

Paramount's ET was the No. 1 magazine for the
14th consecutive May sweep by a 74% margin over King World's
second-place Inside Edition, despite a 5% dip to 5.4.

Inside Edition was up 3% to 3.1. Warner Bros.' Extra and
NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood remained deadlocked at a 2.5 average
for each, with both shows even with their prior-year performance.

Among the veteran game and relationship shows, Wheel of Fortune
remained on top with an 8.8 average, unchanged from last year, although King
World's second-place Jeopardy! was down 9% to a 7.0 average.

King World's Hollywood Squares was up 4% to 2.6. Tribune's Family
lost 10% to 1.8.

Warner Bros.' Blind Date fell 11% to 1.7, tying Warner Bros.'
elimiDate, which was up 13% to 1.7.

Warner Bros.' Fifth Wheel skidded 7% to 1.3, tying Warner Bros.'
Street Smarts, which was down 13% from last May.

Warner Bros.' Change of Heart plummeted 21% to 1.1. And Sony's
Shipmates sank 20% to 0.8.

In off-net sitcom action, Warner Bros.' Friends and Sony's Seinfeld
finished in a dead heat, with each show earning a 6.6 average.

Friends was down 4%, while Seinfeld -- which picked up a
double-run on TBS Superstation this season -- was up 10%.

Coming in a strong third was King World's Everybody Loves Raymond,
which was up 9% to 6.2 in its second season.

Warner Bros. rookie Will & Grace was off 9% from February to a
3.9 average.

Fellow rookie Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's That 70s Show averaged 3.7
for fifth place and down 5% from the prior sweep.

Also of note, the race between the two major movie-review weeklies tightened
significantly, as Buena Vista's Ebert & Roeper declined significantly
to a 2.0 average while Paramount's Hot Ticket increased 6% from last May
to a 1.7.