President’s speech boosts Fox News

B'cast nets forgo Bush's address at U.S. Army War College

NEW YORK — Fox News Channel beat its combined cable competish in commanding the most viewers during President Bush’s primetime speech Monday evening.

According to preliminary Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 3.5 million viewers during the 8 p.m. ET speech, which ran 37 minutes. CNN averaged 1.5 million viewers, while MSNBC averaged 934,000 viewers.

From 8-11 p.m. ET, Fox News averaged 2.3 million viewers, compared with 1.3 million who watched CNN and the 649,000 who watched MSNBC during primetime.

The broadcast networks did not carry Bush’s address at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., since his administration didn’t request time as it does when the president is making a speech from the White House or Capitol Hill.

In weighing whether to preempt May sweeps programming, network news divisions determined through conversations with Bush advisers that the president wouldn’t make breaking news in his speech, which focused on Iraq.

The White House has told the network news execs that Bush plans about five more such speeches in the near future — coming as his re-election bid heats up.