CNN dominates in shuttle coverage

FNC comes in second for day's total, MSNBC third

NEW YORK — Maybe Aaron Brown should play golf more often.

As CNN’s leading anchor was famously waylaid by a celebrity golf tourney in California, the original cable newsy briefly regained supremacy in the ratings last weekend with its coverage of the Columbia shuttle crash.

Reinforcing its stature as a first-destination venue during breaking news events, the No. 2 cable newsy brought in an average of 3.9 million viewers during the first three hours, according to Nielsen Media Research.

During the same 9:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. timeframe, an average of 2.8 million viewers tuned in to Fox News.

The space shuttle was supposed to land in Texas at 9:29 am, but by 9:13 MSNBC broke the story that Columbia had disintegrated.

MSNBC drew in an average of 1.42 million viewers, a little more than Headline News’ 1.37 million.

But as first-day coverage progressed CNN’s lead shrank, with only a 100,000-viewer edge on FNC, finishing the day with 1.9 million viewers. MSNBC averaged 775,000.

Sunday’s total-day viewer averages had CNN in front with 1.1 million vs. FNC’s 979,000 and MSNBC’s 457,000.

Out of picture

As CNN relives its former glory, founder Ted Turner on “60 Minutes II” shot down rumors he would rescue the net, which may merge with ABC News into a single joint venture financially controlled by AOL Time Warner.

In the interview, Turner also articulated his discomfort with the prospective merger of CNN and ABC News. “Just merging the two organizations has a lot of challenges,” he said. “The potential pitfalls and opportunities for disagreements exceed whatever benefits could be gained.”

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