Entertainment Industry

Category: Cable News

Mike Wallace: Newsman's death symbolizes passing of an era


Mike Wallace, the 93-year-old pitbull of CBS' "60 Minutes," died this weekend in New Canaan, Conn. 

CBS announced his death Sunday morning by lauding Wallace's brazen brand of reporting, which "made his name synonymous with the tough interview -- a style he practically invented for television more than half a century ago."

More than any other broadcast network, CBS has been most closely associated with its broadcast news team, which over the years has boasted such heavyweights as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite as well as Wallace. Each of the newsmen helped define CBS as a beacon for serious journalism.

PHOTOS: Mike Wallace | 1918 - 2012

“All of us at CBS News and particularly at '60 Minutes' owe so much to Mike," Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and a longtime executive producer of "60 Minutes," said in a statement. "Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn’t be a '60 Minutes.' There simply hasn’t been another broadcast journalist with that much talent. It almost didn’t matter what stories he was covering, you just wanted to hear what he would ask next."

Wallace's tenacious spirit and blistering questions helped to build "60 Minutes" into a ratings juggernaut, and establish the program as the gold standard for broadcast journalism. "60 Minutes" has logged an unprecedented 23 seasons in Nielsen's annual ranking of 10 most popular programs.

The durability of "60 Minutes" proves that viewers continue to have an appetite for hard-hitting newscasts. The program still thrives in an era when the format that inspired it -- the once-a-week newsmagazine -- has lost relevance with the immediacy of the Internet.

VIDEO: Remembering Mike Wallace

Across America, newsroom leaders are struggling to redefine their magazines, newspapers and local TV and radio newscasts. They are doing so amid dramatically shrinking resources and the reality that readers and viewers probably already saw or heard a snippet of the news elsewhere.  Meanwhile, the lure of celebrity news, which drives ratings and Internet traffic, has become an irresistible urge for many in the news business.

Fewer news outlets are practicing the brand of investigative journalism that Wallace and "60 Minutes" helped to define. It is easier and cheaper for news outlets to turn to talking heads to fill air time.

Wallace, in contrast, honed his interview style on the ABC network TV news program, “The Mike Wallace Interview.” He also experimented on a local New York television guest show called “Night Beat.”  

"Wallace’s relentless questioning of his subjects proved to be a compelling alternative to the polite chit-chat practiced by early television hosts," CBS said in its statement.

Wallace's last appearance on television was in January 2008. His sit-down interview on "60 Minutes" with baseball pitching legend Roger Clemens, who stood accused of using steroids, made front-page news.  It was a fitting finale that served to underscore Wallace's legacy.

CBS strives to maintain its edge in hard-news reporting. The network is revamping its "CBS This Morning" program this year with the installation of Charlie Rose, a move to inject a more serious tone.  CBS News chief Fager believes that viewers still care about news with substance. 

Wallace's passing should inspire others in the news business to consider that, too. 


PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

Obituary: Newsman Mike Wallace dies at 93

'60 Minutes' surveys art market with Eli Broad, Jeffrey Deitch

 -- Meg James

Photos: Mike Wallace, right, is shown in 1968 with "60 Minutes" co-anchor Harry Reasoner, left, and the show's creator, Don Hewitt. Credit: CBS News archives

Dish Network to distribute new Univision channels

The telenovela "Soy Tu Duena" ran on Univision.
Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications has secured Dish Network as a launch pad for its three new cable channels.

Since last spring, when Univision announced its new channel initiative, the New York media company has been searching for pay-TV companies to carry them. On Monday, Univision and Dish said they had struck a long-term agreement for Dish to carry Univision's planned sports, telenovela and news channels when they go live in the coming months.

"This is a significant deal for Univision," said Tonia O'Connor, Univision's head of distribution, sales and marketing. "We are taking our most popular content and using it to launch cable networks."

The company's planned soap opera or telenovela channel is expected to start March 1 as part of Dish's Latino programming package. Called Univision tlNovelas, the new channel is expected to feature some of the most popular soaps from Mexico's programming powerhouse Grupo Televisa, which has an equity stake in Univision.

The other two channels are scheduled to go live in April. The sports channel, Univision Deportes, will feature Mexican Primera Division soccer matches and live coverage of FIFA events. The companies said the channel will be offered as part of one of Dish's most widely distributed packages, increasing the number of subscribers that will have access to it.

Also scheduled to launch in April is the Spanish-language cable news network Univision Noticias.  Designed to provide news from Mexico, Latin America and around the world, it will have more limited distribution, offered on Dish's Latino programming package.

The Univision-Dish deal is part of a trend of major U.S. media companies to bolster offerings that appeal to Latinos, the nation's fastest-growing demographic group. Last month, online video site Hulu announced a programming service to better reach Spanish speakers.

“We are pleased to have reached an innovative deal with Univision for their newest channels and their prime-time novelas on demand,” Dave Shull, Dish's senior vice president of programming, said in a statement.

The deal also represents Univision's first major foray into "authenticated" Internet distribution of its programming through a pay-TV provider. Dish customers will be able to access Univision's content online after registering and verifying that they are paying subscribers. Dish will stream the old telenovelas as part of Dish's Blockbuster@Home package.


Univision plans three new cable channels

Furor-stoking LA radio duo defies pigeon-holing

Hulu announces Spanish-language programming service

-- Meg James 

Photo: A scene from "Soy Tu Duena," a popular telenovela that ran on Univision. Credit: Antonio Uribe / Univision

Cable television gaining in advertising revenue, but not political dollars

Boasting popular sporting events and original entertainment shows, cable programmers long ago surpassed the broadcast networks in viewers.

Now they are beginning to close the advertising-revenue divide.

"For the first time, the cable upfront take will be greater than the broadcast upfront," Bill Koenigsberg, chief executive of Horizon Media, said this week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. convention in Chicago. 

This year, many top cable channels, including Time Warner's Turner networks, have been able to raise their ad rates by more than 10% in the so-called upfront market, the period when advertisers place their orders for the bulk of the commercial time for the upcoming TV season.

Of course, it is slightly unfair to compare the ad revenue of scores of cable channels with that of the five major broadcast networks, but cable being poised to take in more ad revenue is nevertheless a symbolic moment for the industry.

Broadcast networks still fetch a premium for their 30-second spots because most of their programs are watched by much larger audiences than those for most cable shows. 

With cable, however, advertisers can focus more on select audiences. For example, home-improvement stores buy time on home and garden shows, while movie studios can zero in on the younger audiences drawn by MTV or ABC Family.  

Demand for national cable TV advertising is up about 8% compared with last year, Tim Spengler, president of Initiative North America, said at the convention. Cars, banks and other financial services, national retail stores, pharmaceutical firms, technology companies and Hollywood movie studios have been among the strongest advertising categories, he said.

"We are also seeing more spent on online video," Koenigsberg said.

However, he cautioned that the strong upfront market doesn't necessarily mean that economy is bouncing back. "I don't think the barometer of this upfront is a predictor for the future," he said. “The jury's still out on whether or not the money is going to continue to flow in."

Advertisers were encouraged to buy time during this spring's upfront market, because those who sat on the sidelines last year were punished. Prices for commercials spiked by 30% or more later in the year. So this year, advertisers placed their orders early.

One area where cable is not making gains is political advertising. Cable networks hoping for a bigger slice of the 2012 campaign-spending pie might be disappointed, particularly when it comes to the presidential race, warned to two top political advisors -- David Axelrod, senior advisor to President Obama, and Ed Gillespie, former counsel to President George W. Bush.

Cable news networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC will attract plenty of political dollars -- but presidential candidates most likely will continue to steer the bulk of their dollars to local TV stations, Axelrod said.
"We spent the vast majority of our money last time on broadcast television," Axelrod told attendees at the cable convention. Only 12% of the money went to cable television, he said, adding that about 68% of the dollars went to TV stations in battleground states.

"It's still the nuclear weapon," Axelrod said of TV stations. "We will probably spend a little more on cable this time, but there still are barriers in cable television that we need to overcome."

He explained that more commercial spots are up for grabs on local broadcast stations, and that candidates have a greater level of assurance that their messages hit the right geographic targets. "It is a national campaign, but it is delivered locally," he said.

Decisions also come down to how much money the various candidates raise.

"If the president has a billion dollars to spend in the election, you know they will be buying time on "American Idol" and "NCIS" and our nominee will be buying the Cooking Channel in Butler County, Ohio," Gillespie, the Republican said.

-- Meg James


Fox Broadcasting upfront advertising sales approach $2 billion

What we learned about the fall 2011 TV season at the 'upfronts'

ABC wraps up advanced advertising sales, generating more than $2.2 billion in prime-time


Lou Dobbs joining Fox Business Network

Just about a year to the day that he left CNN, Lou Dobbs is returning to cable news, this time as host of his own show on News Corp.'s Fox Business Network.

DOBBS Fox Business Network is expected to announce that it has signed Dobbs as early as Wednesday afternoon. It's the latest high-profile hire for the cable network, which launched a little over three years ago and is in 57 million homes. Although that is far fewer homes than its chief rival, CNBC, Fox Business last week managed to beat CNBC on election night, both in viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic.

Dobbs' show will premiere in early 2011. He will also appear on other Fox Business programming.

When Dobbs left CNN last November after clashing with management there, he said some leaders had been urging him to "go beyond the role at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day."

At that time, there was speculation that Dobbs would seek some sort of political office. He had become something of a lightening rod on several issues, most prominently illegal immigration. It was his commentary on that topic that often led to fights with CNN brass, including Jon Klein, who was then president of CNN's domestic operations.

Although Dobbs played up the idea that he would enter politics, many within the media industry anticipated that he would find a new home at Fox, either with Fox News Channel or Fox Business.

Dobbs has not been off the radar for the last year. He continued his nationally syndicated radio show after he left CNN and is expected to keep that gig with Fox Business as well.

Dobbs will instantly become one of the biggest names on Fox Business. Neil Cavuto is its most prominent on-air personality. Other high-profile anchors and reporters include Charlie Gasparino and Dennis Kneale, both former CNBC staffers, and Gerri Willis, an ex-CNN correspondent who hosts a show for Fox Business.

-- Joe Flint

For the record: This post was updated to include details on Dobbs show would premiere.

Photo: Lou Dobbs. Credit: Karen Bleier / Getty Images

Writers Guild worries about news degradation under Comcast-NBC Universal

The quality of television news could deteriorate further under a Comcast-controlled NBC Universal, the  Writers Guild of America East warned Wednesday in letters to key Washington officials overseeing the government's review of the proposed merger.

"True investigative reporting has almost vanished completely from commercial on-air news or has often been reduced to sensationalized, trivial coverage of no lasting significance," Michael Winship, president of the guild, and Lowell Peterson, executive director, wrote.  "Instead of a town square where ideas flow freely, the news business becomes more like a shopping mall dominated by a small number of megastores. This thwarts the public's ability to engage in robust, well-informed discussion of the critical issues of our times."

The guild, which represents thousands of writers  in film, television, radio and digital media, sent the letters to Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski; Christine Varney, the assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division; and U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The consolidation of Comcast's entertainment assets with NBC Universal "would result in a single company producing content and acting as sole distributor of that content -- both on cable and online -- for tens of millions of Americans," Winship and Peterson wrote.

As a remedy, they recommended that Comcast be required to "contribute significant resources to the production of truly independent content."  Funding, they said, should be allocated through the Corp. for Public Broadcasting or "another entity to be established for this purpose." They suggested that Comcast set aside $10 million a year over a 10-year period -- or $100 million -- for funding. 

"It is imperative that this further consolidation of control be counterbalanced by a commitment to broaden the programming available to the public," Winship and Peterson wrote.

Comcast quickly responded, saying it was up to Congress and the "public broadcasting community" to devise funding strategies.

"Comcast has already pledged to make local news and other local programming available to consumers at more times and on more platforms than ever before and to facilitate and encourage the creation of new local programming and to add even more independent networks to our video systems," Sena Fitzmaurice, vice president of government communications for Comcast, said in a statement. "We’ve committed that the NBC owned and operated broadcast stations will produce an additional 1,000 hours per year of local news and information programming for distribution on traditional and new media."

Though the guild's suggestion was "a thoughtful proposal," Fitzmaurice's statement went on, "it ignores the fact that, taken as a whole, the range of public interest commitments already made by the combined companies promises to deliver more diverse programming and more independently produced programming than any entity has ever committed to before."

-- Meg James

Morning Fix: 'Social Network' scores. Rupert Murdoch tilts right again. Sanchez adds to CNN's woes. Quick hook in new TV season. CAA gets an infusion.

After the coffee.  Before seeing if I had the Kansas City Chiefs going undefeated this season.

The Skinny. In Monday's roundup: Sony's "The Social Network" takes the top spot at the box office, but don't look for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to buy the DVD. CAA has landed a big investment from TPG, a private equity firm, that the talent agency hopes will position it for a bright future in an uncertain world. No new hits so far in the TV season. Legendary producer Stephen Cannell, who died late last week, not only created great TV, he stood up for independent producers against the networks.

Sony likes this! "The Social Network," Sony Pictures' attempt to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of Facebook and the legal battles that followed its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, finished first at the box office, taking in $23 million. That is just a little off from what industry analysts had projected, and the movie easily beat the other two major releases that opened -- "Case 39" and "Let Me In." The real challenge for "The Social Network" will be to avoid being the MySpace or Friendster of movies, starting out hot and then vanishing from the zeitgeist. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News

Zuckerberg's thumb is down. Although the box office was good, Facebook and Zuckerberg are not fans of "The Social Network," which people close the company claim is a very distorted look at the history of the social-networking site. Hollywood take creative liberties? Shocking. David Kirkpatrick, who wrote a book on Facebook with the cooperation of Zuckerberg, talks about what he thinks the movie got wrong in the Daily Beast. After reading his article and seeing the movie, I was more surprised by how much Kirkpatrick said the movie got right versus what he said the movie got wrong. OK, so Zuckberberg didn't have sex in a bathroom as implied with the movie; I think he can survive that hit to his reputation.  In the meantime, Zuckerberg is trying to improve his own profile, making a big donation to public schools in Newark, N.J., and appearing on both Oprah Winfrey's show and Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons."

Disney's new new media duo. Walt Disney Co.'s digital aspirations are so big that it takes two executives to run its interactive unit. Over the weekend, the company announced that John Pleasants, chief executive of Playdom, a social gaming site that Disney bought earlier this year, and James Pitaro, who oversees Yahoo Inc.'s media operations, will be co-presidents of Disney Interactive. They replace Steve Wadsworth, who left a few weeks ago. Details from Bloomberg.

CAA's new look. On Friday, Creative Artists Agency announced TPG Group, a firm whose investments include Burger King and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, bought a 35% stake in the talent agency whose clients include Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey. The deal will also see CAA and TPG create a $500-million fund for future investments. The move comes as the movie and television industries struggle to adjust to the shifting digital landscape. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Deadline Hollywood.

CNN's struggles. It is a cash cow with a brand known the world over, but Time Warner Inc.'s CNN has seen its ratings plummet in the U.S. over the last decade as Fox News has raced to the top and MSNBC has made big inroads. New York magazine looks at the unsuccessful efforts of recently ousted CNN U.S. President Jon Klein to shakeup the network and turn it around, and how its competitors have managed to steal the spotlight. CNN's headaches only got worse on Friday when one of its hosts, Rick Sanchez, was canned for calling Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" a bigot and for taking some shots at CNN management as well. The Washington Post on how Sanchez imploded.

Rupert leans right. Once again, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has made a big donation that has people talking about the influence of his media company -- whose holdings include Fox News -- on the country's political climate. Murdoch wrote a $1-million check to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is working primarily on behalf of Republican candidates. The New York Times takes a look at Murdoch's spending and what it has people saying about his company.

Quick trigger. The TV season is only a couple of weeks old and already two shows -- Fox's "Lone Star" and ABC's "My Generation" -- have been canceled. So much for having patience when, with so many shows launching at the same time, it's hard to get the attention of viewers. Of course, some shows just are not good, and all the marketing in the world won't make a difference. Variety has a look at the quick hook of the networks.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Scott Collins looks at the lack of success for most of the TV season's new shows. Legendary producer Stephen Cannell, who died on Friday, not only made a lot of great shows ("The Rockford Files," "Wise Guy"), he was a strong voice for independent producers.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter because it will make Monday go by faster. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Lots of options for Katie Couric at CNN if that's what she wants

Although she still has almost a year to go on her contract, speculation is starting to heat up on whether Katie Couric will remain with CBS as anchor of its evening newscast or move elsewhere in 2011.

There has always been talk that Couric was a likely replacement for Larry King at CNN once he stepped down from his hourlong chat show. However, with British talk-show host Piers Morgan expected to take that job, that window may be closing on Couric, per the New York Times.

COURIC But just because King's 9 p.m. ET show may go to someone else doesn't mean that there aren't other openings for Couric at the cable news channel if that's what she wants. CNN is struggling in just about every evening hour and would gladly plug Couric in anywhere to try to stop the bleeding.

Even if Couric had her heart set on CNN's 9 p.m. slot, odds are the network would find a way to make that happen. It's not as though Morgan is some established brand that can't be moved.

The real question is whether Couric would want to go to CNN. Although she has not had the smoothest of rides since leaving NBC's "Today" show to take over as anchor of the "CBS Evening News," she still gets a bigger audience than most cable news programs. It remains to be seen if she would view moving to cable as a step backward.

If Couric does want off CBS' signature newscast, her broadcast options are pretty limited. Both ABC and NBC are set with their anchors -- Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams, respectively -- and a return to morning, while easily doable on CBS, would also seem unlikely at NBC or ABC.

That leaves syndication. In terms of a payday, an afternoon talk show featuring Couric would likely be an easy sell to television stations. The risk is to Couric's image. She has always walked a fine line between serious newscaster and celebrity figure. A daytime talk show may lower her stature as a journalist, and you can't put a price tag on that.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: CBS' Katie Couric speaks at the Time/Fortune/CNN Global Forum in June. Credit: Michelly Rall / Getty Images

CNN's ratings woes not limited to Campbell Brown and Larry King

While CNN is spending much of its time focusing on jump starting its 8 and 9 p.m. hours, it might want to start paying a little more attention to the 7 and 10 p.m. hours as well. That's what a quick look at the July ratings reveals.

At 7, John King's show is off 42% in viewers and 36% in adults 25-54 from what Lou Dobbs was averaging last July, according to Nielsen. Last year, Dobbs averaged 723,000 viewers, and while that was far behind Shepherd Smith's show at Fox News, he was beating everyone else. Now, though, CNN has dropped to fourth in that hour.

Anderson Cooper also doesn't have a lot to smile about. His 10 p.m. show had a disappointing July, averaging only 575,000 viewers. Not only is that down 56% from July 2009, it is the second-least-watched month ever for Cooper who spent much of his time on the road covering the British Petroleum oil spill and the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

CNN is working hard to revamp the 8 p.m. hour. Campbell Brown recently left her show, citing its disappointing ratings as one of the causes for her exit. CNN is going to launch a political chat show featuring former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker this year. That show was seen as a shift toward the more debate and issues approach to cable news of its rivals.

Larry King also gave notice that he will be leaving the 9 p.m. hour he has anchored for over two decades this fall. However, there apparently isn't a lot of sentimentality regarding news of King's exit because his July audience was off 55%. Of course, last July King was able to milk the death of Michael Jackson for big ratings.

CNN is certainly struggling in the ratings right now and is off 53% in prime-time viewers compared to last July, but its stronger rivals can't crow too much. Fox News is still on way out on top, but its prime-time average is down 11% in viewers compared to the same month a year ago while MSNBC was off 9%. CNN's sister channel HLN saw 20% of its audience disappear.

-- Joe Flint

[Updated Wednesday at 3:29 p.m.: A previous version of this post misspelled Spitzer's first name as Elliot.]

The Morning Fix: Showtime shuffle! Box-office trading blow. Would you like fries with M. Night Shyamalan?

After the coffee. Before a moment of sadness over Detroit closing two parks I played in as a kid.

See ya, Showtime. Bob Greenblatt, the head of pay cable channel Showtime, is making his exit. Greenblatt, a veteran of Fox and his own production company, oversaw Showtime's emergence as a programming force with original series such as "Nurse Jackie," "Dexter" and "Californication." In line to take the Showtime gig is another respected executive: David Nevins who stepped down as head of Imagine TV ("24," "Friday Night Lights," Arrested Development," "Parenthood") Thursday. As for Greenblatt, his name has been bandied about for a big job at NBC after its merger deal with Comcast closes, but we'll just have to see about that. Deadline Hollywood broke the news about Nevins leaving Imagine. Variety broke the news about Greenblatt leaving and Nevins likely succeeding him. And I link to the Los Angeles Times as well because, well, I'm a homer. 

A new Night. Director M. Night Shyamalan, who hit his first couple of movies out of the park ("The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable") before hitting a slump ("The Happening") is back with "The Last Airbender." But this time he's got some backup from some unusual sources -- Nickelodeon and McDonald's. The movie is based on a Nickelodeon cartoon and is a step away from his supernatural stuff. "For the last 10 years, I've been working in a cottage industry of the supernatural," said Shyamalan. "And I've always had my eye on doing a franchise," he told Claudia Eller of the Los Angeles Times. 

Put a hold on box-office futures trading. The House-Senate conference committee hammering out the bill on financial reform that was approved Thursday night included a ban on the creation of a box-office futures trading market. This likely puts a fork in the plans of the two companies behind the plans for an exchange, although one says the fight will go on. Details from the Hollywood Reporter and the Wrap.

Hit the pause button. Apparently NBC Universal and Comcast are having a hard time getting their paperwork together. The Federal Communications Commission is complaining that neither answered all the questions the agency sent the two companies as part of its review of the merger deal. Comcast said its issues were "technical." No word what NBC Universal's issues were. The FCC said it would resume its review as soon as it gets more info. Broadcasting & Cable has the story.

Watching Hulu on a PlayStation. Yes, it could become a reality! Bloomberg reports that Sony Corp. is putting the finishing touches on a deal in which its users could access Hulu via the PlayStation network. Obviously, getting into the video game consoles could mean a bigger audience for Hulu and create yet another option for people wanting content but don't want cable. But I'm a little jaded about all the Hulu coverage when its own future has lots of questions. (What will Comcast do with NBC's stake after their deal closes and will the pay model work?) The Wall Street Journal updates Hulu's pay plans. 

A different Current. The Hollywood Reporter takes a probing look at Current TV, the news and public affairs cable network started by Al Gore that originally was going to subsist primarily on user contributions. Last year, after efforts to either sell (no takers, not even Google, says THR) or go public stalled out, former MTV executive Mark Rosenthal was brought in as chief executive, and he's now reaching out for help from his old pals, including Brian Graden, the former MTV programmer who is consulting Current. On the business side, Current's next big challenge is renewing its distribution deal with Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable operator. Fortunately for Current, Comcast, the country's biggest cable operator, has a stake in it.

More of the same. The Daily Beast's Rachel Sklar says the country may be getting more diverse but cable news isn't.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Dave Smith may know more about Disney than anyone named Disney. The Weinstein Co. may have taken care of some debt headaches, but is the short-term fix enough for the art house to turn around? Looks like another big weekend for "Toy Story 3."

-- Joe Flint

Now with 70% more sarcasm. Follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/JBFlint

Fox News cruising as usual, but Glenn Beck takes a little spill

Fox News Channel finishing first in the cable news ratings race is about as newsworthy as Bruce Springsteen closing a show with "Born to Run."

BECK,jpg Nonetheless, that the News Corp.-owned cable channel has finished first in viewers and key demographics for 100 months in a row is something of an achievement. In prime time, Fox News averaged about 1.9 million viewers for the month of April. That beat the combined audiences of MSNBC, CNN and HLN.

Not everyone at Fox News is dancing on top of their desks. Glenn Beck has seen his audience fall almost 30% since the start of the year, from about 2.9 million viewers in January to 2.1 million in April.

While the Beck sensation may be slowing, the decline in his audience has hardly made a dent on the lead he enjoys for his 5 p.m. festival of emotions. His rivals should hold off a little on popping the Champagne..

Speaking of rivals, CNN's Larry King seems to have gotten no ratings boost for his recent personal troubles. His prime-time audience of 670,000 viewers was down 41% compared to April 2009. He was off almost 50% in the 25-54 demographic. He now routinely loses not only to Fox News, but to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and, in fact, is barely staying ahead of HLN's Joy Behar. Larry King is not the only King having a hard time at CNN. John King's 7 p.m. show is getting clobbered as well, losing almost half of Lou Dobbs' audience from a year ago. 

MSNBC, meanwhile, continues to pull away from CNN, beating it in viewers and demographics in prime time. Maddow in particular is seeing her fortunes rise, and she now beats her colleague Keith Olbermann among adults 25-54.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Glenn Beck. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press.


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