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War news does number on syndies

Daytime shows took a one-two punch for the week ending March 30.

The "left uppercut" was that for the first time, syndicated shows had to
compete against war coverage for an entire week, with the number of households
viewing major cable news networks in daytime up dramatically compared with the week
prior to the war.

Cable News Network was up 220 percent, MSNBC was up 236 percent and leader Fox News Channel
was up 138 percent.

The "right cross" was that although some shows were pre-empted, in many cases,
the pre-emptions were not high enough for Nielsen Media Research to discount the shows from the
weekly average. (Coverage has to drop by 10 percentage points -- say, from 95
percent coverage of the United States to 85 percent -- for a show's performance to be

Partly as a result, only two of 14 syndicated talkers were up for the week.
They were Jenny Jones, up 21 percent to a 1.7, and Crossing Over with John
, up 10 percent to a 1.1.

On the downside, top talker Oprah was off 7 percent to a 5.5; rookie
Dr. Phil fell 9 percent to a 4.3; Live with Regis & Kelly was
down 11 percent to 3.1, equaling its season low; Maury was down 19
percent to a new season-low 2.5; Jerry Springer was down 4 percent to a
2.3; Montel fell 16 percent to a 2.1, equaling its lowest-ever rating;
Martha Stewart Living was down 15 percent to a 1.1, equaling its low for
the season; and full-rollout rookie Good Day Live (it had a limited
rollout last year) was down 11 percent to 0.8, matching its lowest rating to

Four talkers were unchanged: Ricki Lake at a 1.5, John Walsh at
a 1.3, The Other Half at a 0.9 and Caroline Rhea at a 0.7.

Among the court shows, the losses were not as severe. Still, only two of
seven improved: People's Court, up 5 percent to a 2.0, and Judge Greg
, up 6 percent to a 1.9.

The leaders were in "lower" court for the week: Judge Judy, down 6
percent to a 4.7; Divorce Court, down 10 percent to a 2.7; and Texas
, down 9 percent to a 2.1.

Unchanged were Judge Joe& Brown at a 3.2 and Judge
at a 1.6.

Off-network sitcoms, which got hammered by war coverage the previous week, managed
to rally this week.

For the first time, That 70s Show edged out Will & Grace for top
rookie honors with a 3.7, up 6 percent, compared with Will & Grace's
3.6, unchanged.

Regaining the top spot among sitcoms -- not that there was anything wrong with
No. 2 -- was Seinfeld, up 14 percent to a 6.6. Friends was in
second, up 7 percent to 6.3, and Everybody Loves Raymond was in third at
a 5.6, up 8 percent.