The week that was


How we rate things

Cult hit
The Osbournes
(above) attracted a big cable number again April 16 on MTV, recording a 5.2 rating, duplicating the Nielsen ratings it got the week before when it was cable's top watched program, outdrawing TNN's World Wrestling Federation's

For the week of April 8-14, Lifetime
held the top spot overall with a 2.4 average prime time rating. Its ratings were buoyed by a strong original movie, We Were the Mulvaneys,
which got a 4.7 rating April 8. Fox News Channel
continued to lead its cable news rivals, registering a 1.2 rating in prime, compared with a 1.0 for CNN
and 0.4 for MSNBC
. ...

In broadcast, CBS
won the weekly ratings races for households and total viewers for the week ended April 14, while NBC
took the crowns for the key adult demographics—adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. Season to date, NBC is tops in households with an average 8.9 Nielsen rating and a 15 share, while CBS is second with an 8.1//13. ABC
is third (6.4/11) and Fox
fourth (5.8/09). NBC is ahead among total viewers as well with an average 13.6 million vs. 12.28 million for CBS, 9.9 million for ABC and 9.5 million for Fox.

NBC is also ahead among adults 25-54 with a 6.1/14, followed by CBS (4.7/11). And you know ABC is hurting when Fox is beating them in the demo, with a 4.2/10 vs. a 4.1/10 for ABC.

NBC is also winning season to date in adults 18-49. The standings there: NBC, 5.3/14, Fox, 4.1/11; CBS, 3.9/10 and ABC, 3.6/10. ...

For the week ending April 7, most syndicated shows trended down. Only one of nine first run rookie strips improved its rating—Telepictures'
new late night dating strip, Elimidate,
up 6% to a 1.7, equalling its best ratings to date. The top rookie continues to be Texas Justice,
despite a 5% decline to a 2.1. King of the Hill
was the only one of the top five sitcoms to improve its rating. The show came in fourth, up 3% to a 3.6. The top sitcom continues to be Friends,
down 1% to a 7.0.

Cable Ready

Discovery Networks
last week unveiled plans for a free video on demand (VOD) service Choice 10 Discovery
and a Subscription VOD service. The SVOD offering, Discovery on Demand,
will be stocked with 500 hours of Discovery programming that will change regularly. Discovery's free VOD service will carry advertising. …. Lifetime
is adding legal drama For the People
to its Sunday night originals block. The women's net ordered up 13 episodes of the hour-long drama, from Cumulus Productions, will debut July 21 and replaces highly-rated drama Any Day Now.

Northpoint lives, sorta almost maybe

Northpoint Technology's
new terrestrial TV service designed to compete with satellite and cable TV is expected to get the go-ahead from the FCC
this week, perhaps even today (April 21). More than a year after approving the service in concept, the agency is expected to set the stage for the auction of spectrum within the 12 gHz band reserved for DBS and establish strict interference rules aimed at placating DBS opponents of the new service.

But Northpoint is expected to argue, or sue, believing it is entitled to the spectrum at no charge because there were no viable rivals when it applied for spectrum. Northpoint also argues that creating interference protections tougher than those already faced by incumbent DBS providers is wrong.

Its chief rival for the spectrum is MDS America,
which has been testing a terrestrial delivery system in Florida. MDS builds systems using shared DBS spectrum in France, Iceland, Kuwait and New Zealand. Pegasus Communications, a reseller of DirecTV
service in rural areas, also has indicated an interest in vying for the spectrum but has not tested a system.

The threat of legal action is said to have delayed completion until the commission was convinced it can defend the ruling in court; the FCC's had a bad record there recently.

But there's a good chance DBS providers will attempt to overturn the decision too. Echostar
and DirecTV argue that the new service will create unacceptable levels of interference.

Indianapolis X 2

Sinclair Broadcast Group
will sell WTTV(TV)
Indianapolis and satellite station WTTK(TV)
in Kokomo, Ind. to Tribune Co. for $125 million. Tribune already owns WXIN(TV)

The deal, if approved by the FCC, will give Tribune Broadcasting 24 stations with a combined reach of 38.4% of U.S. television households, and nearly 29%, factoring FCC discounts for UHF stations.