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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, August 30, 2002

Ranking points to a news anchor duel

By David Bauder
Associated Press



In a foreshadowing of what may be a future duel for news viewers, NBC's Brian Williams scored a historic victory over ABC's Peter Jennings last week.

It was the first time a Williams-anchored "Nightly News" beat Jennings' broadcast for a week in the Nielsen Media Research ranking since a time was set for when Williams would replace Tom Brokaw.

NBC announced this spring that Williams would take over for Brokaw after the 2004 presidential election.

Presumably, Williams would then be competing with Jennings regularly. Jennings has reportedly signed a new contract that would keep him on the air at "World News Tonight" through Brokaw's departure, although the ABC newsman isn't confirming the deal.

"Nightly News" averaged 8.8 million viewers (6.4 rating, 14 share) to 8.5 million viewers for "World News Tonight" (6.1, 13). The "CBS Evening News" averaged 7.4 million (5.3, 11).

Those numbers are something of a relief for NBC, where Williams' poor ratings performance while sitting in for Brokaw raised some eyebrows.

ABC argues that its ratings were skewed last week because "World News Tonight" was pre-empted from its usual time slot on the West Coast because of an exhibition football game on Monday. It's not clear whether that would have changed the weekly results, however.

Meanwhile, in prime time, Fox's "American Idol" continued its march to summer stardom. Its two episodes last week were the two most-watched programs, with 15.3 million people tuning in Tuesday.