- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 20, 2003

WRC-TV will score another sweeps victory when the May ratings period ends today, although the NBC affiliate’s numbers are down in the afternoon and early evening races.

As usual, WRC (Channel 4) had the most-watched local news during the first 26 days of the 28-day May sweep, which began April 24. However, its weekday numbers were down at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. compared with May 2002, according to Nielsen Media Research.

But don’t cry too hard for the folks on Nebraska Avenue NW, where WRC is based. The station was up more than 20 percent weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., and its late news numbers held steady.

Ratings for CBS affiliate WUSA-TV (Channel 9) were down slightly in early mornings and at 5 p.m., but up at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

WTTG-TV (Channel 5) registered double-digit gains in the early mornings and at 10 p.m., although the Fox affiliate didn’t get anywhere near the numbers it enjoyed in February, when “Joe Millionaire” helped goose its ratings.

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7) — which has been without a permanent morning weathercaster since November — saw its early news numbers fall. Its afternoon, evening and late-news numbers rose, although it is close to finishing behind WTTG’s “The Simpsons” reruns at 6 p.m. and “Seinfeld” reruns at 11 p.m.

A closer look at the key races:

Weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., an average 75,000 households tuned into WRC (up 22 percent from May 2002), followed by WUSA with 52,000 households (down 6 percent) and WJLA with 43,000 households (down 7 percent). WTTG’s 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. newscast averaged 57,000 households (up 22 percent).

Weekdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., WRC led with 104,000 households (down 13 percent), followed by WJLA with 98,000 households (up 8 percent), WUSA with 78,000 households (down 6 percent) and WTTG with 70,000 households (down 37 percent from May 2002, when it carried “Judge Judy”).

Weekdays from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., WRC led with 146,000 households (down 17 percent), followed by WUSA with 110,000 households (up 3 percent), WJLA with 104,000 households (up 8 percent) and WTTG’s “The Simpsons” reruns with 103,000 households.

Weeknights from 11 p.m. to 11:35 p.m., WRC led with 165,000 households (up 1 percent), followed by WUSA with 139,000 households (up 14 percent), WTTG’s “Seinfeld” reruns with 114,000 households and WJLA with 110,000 households (up 5 percent).

WTTG’s 10 p.m. news averaged 161,000 households (up 12 percent).

Profiling Lynch

WJLA will spare Washington area viewers the season finale of “Extreme Makeover” tonight at 10 so it can air its own news special, “I’m an American Soldier: The Jessica Lynch Story.”

Kathleen Matthews hosts the one-hour profile of Pfc. Lynch, a 19-year-old Army private and West Virginia resident who became the first prisoner of war rescued during the Iraq war.

Reporter Suzanne Kennedy, who has stayed on top of Pfc. Lynch’s story since her March 23 capture, handles most of the reporting in the special. Ms. Kennedy made six trips to West Virginia to interview the Army clerk’s family and friends, and obtained exclusive Pentagon videotape of Pfc. Lynch training at Fort Jackson, S.C.

If anyone cares — and judging by the Nielsens, few do — WJLA will air the pre-empted “Extreme Makeover” finale Thursday at 2:05 a.m.

The revolving door

The water-cooler buzz at WUSA has traffic reporter Monika Samtani leaving — again. She came to Broadcast House in 1997 and left in 2001, and then returned last fall. Metro Traffic’s Beverly Farmer, who supplies WUSA with traffic reports from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., will add Mrs. Samtani’s 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. shift to her duties.

Station management declined comment.

As The Washington Times reported yesterday, WMAL-AM (630) morning co-host Bill Press will leave Friday to focus on his MSNBC gig. General Manager Chris Berry said the liberal pundit’s departure could open the door for changes to WMAL’s beleaguered morning show.

Mary Ellen Donovan, WRC’s longtime managing editor, leaves today to spend more time with her family. No replacement has been named.

Hey, what about us?

Comcast SportsNet scored nine nominations for local Emmys this year, which Channel Surfing failed to mention in a recent column on the awards. Trophies are to be handed out June 7.

Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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