While ABC affil KTRK maintained a firm grip as the top station in the market (in both Nielsen and Arbitron), its hammerlock on the 5 p.m. news was broken by CBS affil KHOU, which ranked first place in Nielsen (12.1 rating/23 share vs. a 10.6/20) and tied in Arbitron (10.1/21).

Arbitron, in fact, has KHOU’s 5 p.m. newscast up two share points since Feb. ’90. That may help explain why lead-out “CBS News With Dan Rather” bucked the national trend, scoring second place in the net news wars with a 10.6/19 Nielsen and 11.3/19 Arbitron. (KTRX’ “ABC World News” had a 13.9/25 Nielsen, 13.5/23 Arbitron and NBC affil KPRC a 7.8/14 Nielsen and 7.6/13 Arbitron for the “NBC Nightly News.”)

Overall KHOU claimed second place, with KPRC trailing in the No. 3 position. KTRK had the No. 1 newscast at 6 and 10 p.m.; KHOU is No. 2, in both Nielsen and Arbitron.

There was little good news for KPRC in any daypart. Nielsen reported that “The Tonight Show” slipped to third place from second at 10:30 p.m., with “Nightline” moving into the timeslot’s No. 1 spot on KTRK. KHOU’s once-dominant “Mash” reruns came in third. “The Tonight Show” is No. 4 according to Arbitron, trailing “Arsenio Hall” on indie KTXH.

KPRC had no good news in any daypart. Even in the early-morning talkshow race, Arbitron had its NBC “Today” show in third place (3.4/11), trailing KTRK’s potent mix of local news and “Good Morning America” (8.2/26) and KHOU’s “CBS This Morning” (4.2/14). Nielsen was more charitable, giving KPRC a 3.9/13, opposite KTRK’s 9.1/30 and KHOU’s 2.6/8.

In addition, KPRC’s efforts to improve its afternoon lineup met with little success. The biggest disappointment was “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee,” moved into the 2 p.m. slot in January after months in latenight. (It received an anemic 1.7/5 in both Nielsen and Arbitron.) Some afternoons, KPRC ranked seventh at 2 p.m.

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