Political coverage saps syndie shows

Politics took its toll on syndicated programs during the second week of the sweeps, according to the Nielsen national barter rankings for the period ended Nov. 8.

Because of the strong interest leading up to the presidential contest and an election night rerun, Paramount’s “The Arsenio Hall Show” suffered the most dramatic blow, tumbling 42% to a 2.5 from a 4.3 during the corresponding week a year ago.

“Arsenio’s” November ’91 ratings, however, were heavily inflated from Magic Johnson’s first post-HIV announcement appearance.

Without that night, “Arsenio” averaged a 3.2 rating during the corresponding week, which would mean only a 16% year-to-year decline at a time when pre-election ratings shot up for ABC’s “Nightline.”

On the magazine front, King World’s “Inside Edition” scored its highest rating ever and was the only syndie magazine to improve over last year (up 13% to a 7.8 from a 6.9). Clearances for the show rose 5% since last November, however.

The timing of “Edition’s” achievement was ironic, however, with the showing facing a downgrade in New York where it will be replaced in January by Tribune’s “Geraldo” on WCBS-TV.

Election preemptions hurt the year-to-year performances of Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” (falling to a 9.0 from a 9.8), Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” (declining to a 7.5 from an 8.9) and Par’s “Hard Copy” (slipping to a 5. 9 from a 6.5).

For “Hard Copy,” however, the mark represented its highest score of the season, with a 13% increase from the previous week (5.2) and a 31% jump from its premiere week (4.5).

A number of syndie talkshows scored well, with Tribune’s “Geraldo” reaching a season high of a 4.8 (up 7% from last week and 2% from a year ago despite downgrades).

Buena Vista Television’s morning entry “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” hit its all-time high mark of a 4.6, beating Par’s “The Maury Povich Show” (cleared mostly in early fringe periods) at a 4.4.

This marks the sixth time this season that syndie vets “Live” and “Geraldo” have surpassed the second-year “Povich” talker, which still grew 10% to a 4.4 versus the 4.0 it achieved during the same week last November.

Viacom’s “Montel Williams Show” is also showing signs of strength in its first season of national distribution. The show has risen 38% from its season premiere, climbing to a 2.9 from a 2.1.

Several new off-net sitcom strips also made some significant strides from the previous week, with Columbia’s “Designing Women” up 12% to a 6.7 from a 6.0; Viacom’s “Roseanne” rising 5% to a 6.6 from a 6.3, and Turner Program Serivce’s “The Wonder Years” advancing 7% to a 4.1 from a 4.4.

In the firstrun arena, Carsey-Werner Distribution’s “You Bet Your Life” rose to a 5.0 from a 4.6 the previous week, but the gains came as WCBS prepares to downgrade the strip.

With the election winding to a close during the week, Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” dipped a bit to a 3.2 from a 3.3, while Genesis Entertainment’s “The Whoopi Goldberg Show”–fighting for its life–dropped 5% to a 1.8 from a 1.9.

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