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Oscar Audience Continues Decline

March 28, 1985|JAY SHARBUTT | Times Staff Writer

The audience for Monday's Academy Awards telecast declined for the second consecutive year, ratings figures showed Wednesday, despite successful efforts by the program's producers to tighten it and avoid a repetition of last year's 3 3/4-hour Oscar telecast.

The 1985 Oscar show on ABC, even though it ended 38 minutes sooner than last year's program, was seen in an estimated 23.5 million American homes--nearly 1.9 million fewer homes than watched the 1984 Oscar telecast, also televised by ABC.

According to preliminary A. C. Nielsen Co. ratings figures, Monday's Oscar broadcast got a 27.7 rating, compared to 30.3 the previous year. The program's estimated share of audience also dropped, to 45%, compared to 50% in 1984. The latter figure was 9% lower than in 1983.

Although Monday's Academy Awards telecast doubtless will prove to be this week's highest-rated prime-time program when ratings for the entire week come out Tuesday, the Nielsen figures are bound to be disappointing to academy officials.

While critics said there weren't many surprises in Monday's show, which was dominated by the eight-Oscar victory of "Amadeus," many agreed that the program still was a far crisper production than 1984's Oscar telecast, a show bogged down by long speeches by winners.

Gregory Peck, director Robert Wise, Larry Gelbart and academy president Gene Allen, co-producers of Monday's program, tried to avoid the complaints of boredom that followed last year's program, most notably by urging winners to limit their speeches to 45 seconds.

They succeeded in large part, but not in the ratings. According to Nielsen figures, the estimated share of audience for Monday's program was 33% lower than for the all-time Oscar ratings winner--the 1970 telecast in which John Wayne won the first Oscar of his long career for his performance in "True Grit."

The Oscar show aired opposite the regular Monday schedule on CBS and "Every Which Way but Loose," a Clint Eastwood movie, on NBC.

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