WCBS edges WABC in 11 p.m. technicality

Station squeaks through with 'Country' kudos

The race went down to just before midnight on the last day of the New York May sweeps before WCBS-TV managed to lunge into a tie for second place with WABC-TV in the half-hour local news sweepstakes at 11 p.m.

It was WCBS’ best late-news performance in a decade, but the station ended up squeaking through on a technicality: When the low-rated “Academy of Country Music Awards” spilled over from primetime and erased the first eight minutes of the local WCBS newscast on Wednesday, the station removed the entire half-hour from the database.

That removal kept the average rating of the 11 p.m. newscast to a 6.1, allowing WCBS to claim a tie with WABC’s 6.1 rating average. But when WABC carried the 11 p.m. rating to the hundreds, it actually nosed out WCBS, 6.14 to 6.07.

Whatever the interpretation of the 11 p.m. numbers, WCBS still ended up as the only commercial VHF station in New York to harvest more viewers during the May sweeps in every local news daypart, as well as in sign-on to sign-off.

At 11 p.m., WCBS’ ratings are up by 24% compared with May 2003, helped by the signing of well known local-news personality Roz Abrams as co-anchor. First-place WNBC is up by 3% at 11 while WABC is down 6%.

WCBS has also added more viewers for its half-hour newscast at 6 p.m., shooting up by 17% from a year ago. But the station still winds up in third place, behind No. 1 WABC (down 10% from May 2003) and WNBC, a close second (down 4%).

For the one-hour newscast at 5 p.m., WCBS is up substantially, by 25% from last May. But the station is still almost two full rating points behind the newscasts of WABC and WNBC, which tied for No. 1.

Fox stations first, second

Fox’s two owned stations, WNYW and WWOR, came in first and second in their key local-news time periods, from 10 to 11 p.m., ahead of Tribune’s WB affiliate WPIX, with WNYW ahead by a strapping two rating points. But all three were off by double digits from May 2003: WNYW down by 13%, WWOR 16% and WPIX 19%.

“Oprah” on WABC has reinforced its title as the No. 1-rated series Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m., shooting up by 15% from a year ago. Time-period winners in New York include WABC’s “Live With Regis & Kelly” at 9 a.m., WNBC’s “Ellen” at 10 a.m., WABC’s “Jeopardy” at 7 p.m. and WABC’s “Wheel of Fortune” at 7:30.

WWOR got the worst news of the month, averaging only a 1.2 rating from sign-on to sign-off — the lowest May-sweep rating for an English-language VHF TV station in local broadcast history. Adding to the ignominy, Telemundo’s Spanish-language WNJU also hit a 1.2 rating, tying it with WWOR.