February unkind to talkers


The February sweeps results are in for syndication and the news isn't so good
for the top talk shows.

All of the top nine first-run talk shows saw declines in February, and six of
the nine had double-digit drop-offs from the previous year.

The February sweeps, which ran from Jan. 31 through Feb. 27, did include 17
days of the Winter Olympic Games, though.

Oprah Winfrey, who announced earlier this week that
she will end her daytime run after the 2005-2006 season, led the talk-show pack
once again despite a 12 percent dip from February 2001.

Winfrey's talker averaged a 5.8 rating for the sweeps period, according to
Nielsen Media Research.

Live with Regis and Kelly was second at a 3.9, down 7
percent from its year ago performance.

Maury Povich was third at a 3.4 rating (off 8 percent), followed by
Jerry Springer who fell a
whopping 24 percent to a 2.9.

The Montel Williams Show dropped 20 percent to a 2.8, Rosie
was off 23 percent to a 2.4, while Jenny Jones (down 17
percent) and Ricki Lake (down 27 percent) tied at a 1.9.

Sally Jessy Raphael, whose show was canceled earlier
this week after 19 seasons, averaged a 1.7 rating, down 29 percent from last

Wheel of Fortune was once again the top show in all of syndication,
averaging a 10.1 rating (down 8 percent), and Jeopardy! was second at an 8.5.

Friends was the top-rated off-net sitcom at a 7.5 rating and
Seinfeld was close behind at a 6.7.

Everybody Loves Raymond, in its first season in
syndication, scored an impressive 6.1 rating for the sweeps.

Entertainment Tonight was the top-rated newsmagazine for the 46thconsecutive sweeps period despite a
10 percent dip to a 6.2.