Despite a spate a scandals to titilate the tabloids, Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” suffered a setback in the Nielsen national syndication barter rankings for the week ended Aug. 22.

“Affair” slipped 8% from the previous week to 5.8, only a tenth of a point ahead of Paramount’s “Hard Copy,” which rose 4% to 5.7.

“Hard Copy” is in the midst of its best third quarter ever. The program’s 5.7 marks its highest single-week tally in the third quarter and its biggest mark in 13 weeks.

King World’s “Inside Edition” also looked sharp during the week, up 6% to 6.8 — within spitting distance of the top-ranked syndie newsmag, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” (flat at 7.0).

Talkshows were little changed, although Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” (sans Kathie Lee) was flat with an unusually low 3.2.

In latenight, Multimedia Entertainment’s “Rush Limbaugh” regained a slim lead over Par’s “The Arsenio Hall Show” (the latter is almost universally cleared in latenight while “Rush” has some early fringe clearances in markets such as Los Angeles).

“Rush” gained 12% to 2.8, but “Arsenio’s” posse got cut off at the pass with a 4% decline to 2.7.

Elsewhere, Warner Bros.’ “The Untouchables” suffered a major hit during the dog days of August, sinking 20% to 4.1 from 5.1 as it experienced the biggest drop among the weeklies.

Par’s top-ranked “Star Trek” duo of “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” were also down, along with WB’s “Time Trax,””Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” and Rysher-TPE’s “The Highlander.”

In the plus column, All American TV’s “Baywatch” flexed 5% to 5.9. And Cannell Distribution’s “Renegade” gained 5% to 4.5.

Another big loser among the weeklies was King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” weekend edition, which plunged 17% to 5.5.

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