NBC, Fox in 18-49 Sweeps Tie

Los Angeles— One week into the May sweeps, NBC and Fox were tied in the 18-49 demographic, both at a 4.4 rating/13 share, according to Nielsen. That looks at the first full week of the sweeps, through last Wednesday night. Numbers including Thursday night's ratings were not available at press time because President Bush's speech interrupted prime time, delaying the Nielsen tabulation. CBS is in third place in adults 18-49 with a 3.5/10; ABC is fourth with a 3.2/9. The news is probably the best for Fox, which is up 22% in adults 18-49 year-to-date vs. this point last year. NBC is down 12%, CBS down 15% and ABC down 11%.

CBS is winning total viewers by a relatively wide margin at this point, beating NBC with 12.83 million viewers to NBC's 11.27 million. CBS is down 4% in viewers, while NBC is down 14%. Of all six networks, only Fox is up in viewers, by a huge 25% with 9.9 million viewers. Fox also is winning adults 18-34, where also it is up 22% over last year. The WB is up 11% in adults 18-34, its key demographic; UPN is down 13% in the demo.

Hearst-Argyle Takes a Tumble

New York— Hearst-Argyle Television's operating income for the first quarter fell 19% to $37.5 million on a 4% drop in revenue to $149.3 million. "We are hopeful that the conclusion of the war bodes well for eventual economic recovery," said Hearst-Argyle CEO David Barrett. "But we believe a sustained improvement in consumer confidence levels, increased employment and capital spending, and a general improvement in macroeconomic indicators will be needed drivers to stimulate meaningful growth in overall ad spending."

News Corp. Files for DirecTV

Washington— News Corp. Friday submitted its application for FCC permission to gain control of DirecTV and pledged to expand carriage of local broadcast signals in "as many as" 210 markets as soon as "economically and technologically feasible." The company also reiterated its promise to offer its Fox networks to rival distributors on nondiscriminatory terms. An earlier story on page 3 went to press before the filing.