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WABC news beats WNBC in sweeps

'Oprah' lead-in helps Gotham net rise to top

WABC edged out WNBC by a tenth of a rating point for the 5 to 6 p.m. news-ratings crown in the May New York sweeps, a reversal of last May’s narrow victory by WNBC in the time period.

The two stations split the two other key local-news time periods, the half-hours at 6 and 11 p.m. WABC harvested an easy win at 6 and WNBC picked up the laurels at 11. But compared with last May, all of the WABC and WNBC newscasts lost viewers.

One of the reasons WABC won the 5 p.m. news sweepstakes this month is the surge in the ratings for its “Oprah Winfrey Show” lead-in, which gained a sturdy .7 rating point over its May 2002 numbers. By contrast, WNBC’s “Judge Judy” lead-in to the 5 p.m. news suffered a decline of 1.1 rating points.

WCBS, still locked in third place in the three time periods, could point to ratings increases year to year at both 5 and 11, helped by better-rated syndicated lead-ins this year at 3 (“Dr. Phil”) and 4 (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) and by better-rated CBS-network lead-ins at 10 p.m.


WNYW, the Fox-owned TV station, surged past its sister network WWOR and the Tribune-owned WPIX for the 10 p.m. news hour, climbing by 1.2 rating points from last May.

In the total day numbers, three stations — WNBC, WABC and WWOR — had to settle for their lowest May-sweep Nielsen performance ever. Only WPIX, which tied for third overall, went up from sign-on to sign-off, rising by 7% to a 3.1 rating. First-place WNBC fell by 16%, to a 4.2 rating, followed by WABC’s 4.1 (down 8%). WCBS slipped by 6%, to a tie with WPIX at 3.1. WNYW was fifth, its 2.3 flat with that of last May. WWOR managed only a sixth-place 1.6 rating, off by 6%.

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