ABC’s ‘This Week’ slides into 3rd for yr.

'Press' still on top, 'Nation' second

ABC’s lagging Sunday morning news show “This Week” ended the 2002-03 season in third place for the first time in at least 15 years.

Alphabet’s performance was particularly sweet for CBS News, whose Sunday gabber has long lagged behind “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Face the Nation” now sits in the No. 2 spot, with first-place “Meet the Press” only widening its lead over any other rival.

Last fall, former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos was named anchor of “This Week,” replacing longtime co-anchors Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson. Ratings have been falling at a steady rate since.

According to Nielsen Media Research for the 2002-03 season, “Meet the Press” averaged 4.7 million viewers, “Face the Nation” 2.9 million and “This Week” 2.7 million. During the May sweeps, “Meet” averaged 4.1 million viewers, “Nation” 2.5 million and “This Week” 2.1 million.

ABC News issued a statement Thursday suggesting it still has a leg up on “Face the Nation,” pointing out that “This Week” still dominates the CBS show in top markets.

Blame game

The Alphabet attributed the ratings fall for “This Week” to National Basketball Assn. games, which the network carries. In recent weeks, the NBA games have resulted in different start times for “This Week.”

The suggestion that “This Week” is lagging because of preemption for sports programming irked rival nets. NBC News pointed out that the Peacock carried the NBA games for much of the 1990s — during the same time that “Meet the Press” rose to become the top Sunday show.

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