- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2006

TV news still tops

Nearly half of Americans spend at least half an hour a day watching television news, a new study of media consumption habits has found. The biennial study was released by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

The study found that one-third of U.S. residents get their news online, but only 1 in 50 did a decade ago. The audience has grown more slowly since 2000 and is skewing older: Surprisingly, youths are less likely than fortysomethings to turn to online news.

TV news can’t rest on any laurels, however. Both local and network newscasts have continued steep declines, with just 54 percent of people saying they are regular viewers of local TV news (compared with 77 percent in 1993) and just 28 percent regularly watching network evening news (down from 60 percent in 1993). Cable TV news consumption has remained relatively steady at 34 percent, as has network morning news at 23 percent.

Interest in international news also is declining. Just 39 percent of respondents said they followed international news “most of the time,” compared with 52 percent two years ago. Forty-three percent said they closely followed news from Iraq, down from 54 percent two years ago.

Among cable news sources, Fox News barely had the largest percentage of regular viewers among respondents (23 percent). CNN had 22 percent, MSNBC and CNBC each had 11 percent, and C-SPAN had 4 percent. Fox News Channel has grown from 17 percent in 1998; CNN was flat compared with the survey two years ago but down considerably from the 35 percent who regularly watched in May 1993, when Fox News Channel and MSNBC didn’t exist.

CBS stacks premieres

CBS will air premieres of 20 of the 22 series on its fall slate in a single week, the network announced yesterday.

Only two shows — the reality series “Survivor: Cook Islands” and “The Amazing Race 10” — will begin their new seasons before the week of Sept. 18. Those shows premiere Sept. 14 and 17, respectively.

Highlights of CBS’ fall premiere schedule include returning series “Two and a Half Men” and “CSI: Miami” on Sept. 18, “NCIS” and “The Unit” on Sept. 19, “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY” on Sept. 20, and “CSI” on Sept. 21. “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace” move to Sunday nights on Sept. 24.

Series debuts include “The Class,” a “Friends” knockoff on Sept. 18 (Monday), and “Shark,” a legal drama starring James Wood as a defense attorney turned prosecutor, on Sept. 21 (Thursday). “Smith,” a drama about a gang of professional criminals with Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen, premieres with limited commercial interruption on the Sept. 19 (Tuesday).

Dolls search under way

The new CW network has ordered eight episodes of a reality show tentatively titled “The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll,” Reuters news agency reports.

The series, set to premiere next season, will feature young women seeking to become the seventh member of the Pussycat Dolls, the pop group behind hit singles “Don’t Cha” and “Stickwitu.”

The CW said some elements of the series will be broadcast live.

A nationwide search will begin immediately to find contenders, who will compete under the guidance of Dolls creator Robin Antin. The band’s current lineup includes Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Nicole Scherzinger, Jessica Sutta, Melody Thornton and Kimberly Wyatt.

The Pussycat Dolls got their start 10 years ago as a burlesque troupe featuring a revolving group of dancers, including such celebrities as Carmen Electra, Christina Aguilera and Christina Applegate. Their debut album, “PCD,” has sold nearly 5 million copies worldwide since its release last September by A&M; Records.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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