‘Week’ squeaks by ‘Face’

Sunday debut drew an average aud of 3.07 mil

In a photo-finish ratings race, the bow of ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos eked out a hairline victory Sunday over CBS’ Beltway gabber rival “Face the Nation” for second place.

Featuring National Security Adviser Condaleezza Rice and Senator Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the former Clinton aide’s Sunday debut drew an average aud of 3.07 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Bob Schieffer-anchored “Nation,” on which Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) appeared, was seen by an average of 3 million.

‘Week’ out, ‘Week’ in

Revamped by new executive producer Jon Banner and publicized heavily by the net, “This Week” has a refreshed look and new format that will include occasional field pieces. Next Sunday, for example, the skein will feature a report from Iowa that will focus on midterm elections.

At one time leader of its genre before it ceded first place to NBC’s Tim Russert-anchored “Meet the Press” in 1997, “This Week” has been in a see-saw struggle with “Face” for second place.

July 1 to Sept. 15, “Week” had the upper hand, averaging 2.68 million viewers compared with 2.39 million for on “Face.” But in the second quarter, “Face” averaged 2.74 million to “Week’s” 2.46 million.

Back in race

“Week” faces a long climb back up to its halcyon era when David Brinkley anchored the program. “We knew this would be a marathon,” said Banner. “Tim has earned his place on top.”

NBC’s frontrunner took in an average 4.54 million viewers Sunday as Russert interviewed Powell, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft.

Fox’s “News Sunday” averaged 1.31 million viewers.

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