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French fight draws crowd

Left-wing presidential candidate attracts 37% TV share

PARIS — France’s presidential duel between right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal is proving a TV audience booster.

A peak of 10.6 million viewers tuned in to TF1 Monday night to hear Royal answer questions from members of the public on a live two-hour prime-time show called “I’ve a Question for You.”

The show averaged 8.9 million viewers, or a 37% audience share, bettering primetime dramas such as the Gallic one parter “The Ranucci Affair,” which drew 7.3 million viewers in the same time slot Jan. 29.

However it didn’t beat season two of “CSI: New York,” which has regularly garnered more than 10 million viewers since it started airing in January, making it the most watched show on French television.

Royal’s appearance on “I’ve a Question for You,” also managed to attract more viewers than Sarkozy’s on the same show Feb. 5. The hard-line interior minister was watched by an average of 8.3 million viewers, or 33% of the viewership, with the audience peaking at 9.7 million.

Next Monday, “I’ve a Question for You” will feature four other candidates, including Gaul’s famed militant farmer Jose Bove.

TV ratings wars aside, Sarkozy is looking the strongest where it counts — in the polls. One published Monday said 32% of the electorate would vote for him in the first round, compared with 25.5% for Royal. The first round takes place April 22.

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