Turner taking time on call as yakker's ratings have slipped

The future is not looking so bright for TBS latenight series “Lopez Tonight.”

Sources say Turner Broadcasting recently informed host George Lopez and the show’s producer, Telepictures Prods., that it needs more time to decide whether the strip will return for a third season.

That’s a troubling sign given that the ratings for Lopez’s show have been dropping this year despite having Conan O’Brien come in last November as a lead-in. Though “Conan” bumped “Tonight” to midnight, TBS hoped Lopez would get increased visibility in the later timeslot thanks to O’Brien.

But after a brief increase in late 2010, “Tonight” is dropping across key demos. In total viewers it’s dipped from an average of 810,000 in the final quarter of last year to 544,000 in the second quarter of this year to date.

“Conan” ratings are also down compared with its launch numbers. After averaging nearly 1.95 million total viewers in the fourth quarter last year, it has dropped to 1.09 million in the second quarter of this year to date.

While TBS has opted not to grant “Tonight” an early renewal, the cabler has until August to decide whether it wants to stick with the show, which would go into production on a new season in November.

Lopez, who appeared at Turner’s upfront presentation last week, is said to be hopeful that he will be brought back for another season.

Turner and Telepictures declined comment. A call to representatives for Lopez was not returned.

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