War and SARS keep auds glued to tube

World Brief

HONG KONG — Television viewership rose in Hong Kong and Singapore over recent weeks, both because of the war on Iraq and because fears about contracting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) kept people away from public places.

Nielsen Media Research reported April 17 that Hong Kong and Singapore residents watched an average of 23.2 hours of TV the last week of March, three hours more than the combined average of the previous four weeks. During the first week in April, with schools shut in Hong Kong, viewing time rose to 26.6 hours per week.

All news channels — the U.K.’s BBC, and U.S. stations CNBC and CNN — experienced between 50%-80% growth in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Cable TV’s news channel registered 40% more viewers in Hong Kong where terrestrial channels also saw jumps in viewership for both their English and Chinese channels.

“Judging by the amount of television people are watching these days, it appears that people have taken their caution one step further and are thinking twice about leaving the house,” says Joanne Ten, director of regional client service for Nielsen Media research.

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