Talker managed a .8 rating season-to-date

Sony’s Greg Behrendt gabber is biting the dust, becoming the third talkshow from the current syndication season that will not return in the fall.

Behrendt’s average rating on local stations, including the Tribune group, was just a 0.8, attracting on average just 888,000 viewers. NBC Universal’s similarly low-rated “The Megan Mullally Show” goes off the air at the end of this month, and Warner’s “The Dr. Keith Ablow Show” is unlikely to return after the spring.

The production staff of the Behrendt show was informed of the decision Wednesday morning. Show was hampered by a slow start out of the box last fall and by too soft an approach to the genre, several syndie vets opined.

Decision to ax the yakker was prompted by Tribune’s decision to sign up for NBC U’s “The Steve Wilkos Show,” which is billed as a gabber in the “Jerry Springer” tradition. (Wilkos was the security guard and occasional replacement for Springer for the past decade.)

Sony sales execs apparently tried to interest the 10 Fox O&Os that are part of the MyNetworkTV contingent in taking over the flagging “Behrendt,” but no deal was worked out.

Move to pull the plug on “Behrendt” comes in the wake of a lackluster syndie sales bazaar in Las Vegas that saw only a hand-ful of firstrun projects get firm gos.

Among the current talkers, only CBS’ “Rachael Ray,” with an average 2.1 rating, caught on sufficiently with viewers this sea-son; it has already been renewed through 2010.

Sony did manage late last year and through the NATPE show to rack up substantial clearances (some 85% of the country) for a new courtshow contender, “Judge David Young,” which will join the company’s two gavelers as part of a block in the after-noons.

As an indication of just how much the action in the overall media biz is shifting, Sony has decided not to return to the NATPE floor as an exhibitor next January, preferring apparently to spread its money and its execs around various other conventions and events.

Not surprisingly, the company, which is heavily into the electronics biz, plans to focus bigtime on the Consumer Electronics Show. It will be held next year two weeks before the NATPE confab, both in Vegas.

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