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Despite Ratings, Cbs' Stringer Proud Of Election Coverage

November 08, 1986|JAY SHARBUTT | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — As expected, the tradition-breaking election night program mix of politics and entertainment by NBC and ABC left CBS and its old-guard ways a distant third in national ratings, A.C. Nielsen Co. figures showed Friday.

But CBS News president Howard Stringer wasn't dismayed by the ratings for his network. Instead, he said he was pleased that many critics had praised CBS for being the only one of the Big Three to do things the old-fashioned way--by airing full prime-time coverage of Tuesday's election night returns.

"I'm proud of everybody here and I'm proud of the network," he added. "If (ratings) numbers are the only thing we're about, we might as well get out of the business."

The final tally showed that ABC, which interspersed its election night coverage with "Growing Pains" and the hit "Moonlighting," won the ratings race, averaging a 15.8 rating and a 25% share of the estimated audience.

NBC, whose one-hour election report shared the prime-time air with "Matlock" and "Crime Story," got a 12.6 rating and 19% of the estimated audience. CBS averaged a 9 rating and 14% of the viewers. Each ratings point represents 874,000 homes.

The decision by NBC and ABC to offer entertainment and abbreviated political coverage doubtless resulted in higher overall ratings than would have occurred had those networks joined CBS in traditional "wall-to-wall" election night coverage.

In 1982, the last off-year election night in which all three networks devoted prime time to political coverage, the networks got a combined ratings average of 30.9. That figure represents 25.7 million homes.

On Tuesday night, with entertainment sharing the bill with news reports at NBC and ABC, the combined three-network rating was 37.4, which works out to 32.7 million homes.

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