Violent TV leads to weekend TV ratings record

BERLIN The four-day Easter holiday delivered a TV viewing record in Germany despite angry comments from a bishop over programming he deemed violent content during one of Christianity’s most important holidays.

According to TV research group Media Control, the average TV viewer in Germany spent 247 minutes a day in front of the tube from Good Friday through Easter Monday.

The record turnout followed widely publicized comments made by Gebhard Fuerst, bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, in weekly Der Spiegel criticizing the holiday programming lineup of commercial broadcasters.

Of course it helped that the weather was so bad, with snowstorms covering the country forcing most folks to stay indoors.

Sat.1 scored big with the first three “Die Hard” pics over the long weekend, while RTL unleashed “King Kong” on Easter Sunday.

Peter Jackson’s remake failed to impress local viewers, however, with only 2.58 million tuning in for the free TV premiere and a market share among the key 14-49 demo of 21.8%.

The big ape was no match for ProSieben’s “Madagascar,” which topped March 23 ratings with 3.38 million and a whopping 26.6% share among target auds.

On March 24, a national holiday in Germany, ARD’s crime drama “Tatort” became the most watched show of the four-day weekend with some 6.79 million total viewers and a 19% share.

Yet in the key 14-49 demo, Sat.1 won with local comedy “Siegfried,” which attracted 3.43 million and a 22.9%.

It wasn’t all shoot ’em-ups and prehistoric beasts, however. ProSieben’s latenight screening of “The Passion of Christ” on Good Friday (and following Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator”) attracted a respectable 1.03 million viewers and a 10.4% share among all auds and a 15.7% share among its young demo.

Mel Gibson’s tour de force wasn’t the only biblical adaptation on offer over the holiday, however. Teutons love their classics and this year saw no lack of cinematic masterpieces, among them: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” which aired on pubcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk; Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments,” with Charlton Heston, on Sat.1; Heston starrer “Ben-Hur,” which Tele 5 presented on both March 22 and 23; and “Quo Vadis” on ARD.

Other Easter favorites included “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “Barabbas,” starring Anthony Quinn, on Universal’s free TV web Das Vierte.

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