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Quick Takes: KCET's ratings plummet

January 08, 2011

The early figures are in — and KCET-TV's departure from PBS is looking like a ratings disaster for the Los Angeles-based public broadcasting outlet.

For the first four nights this week, KCET averaged a 0.3 household rating, according to the Nielsen Co. That's a whopping 50% decline compared with the 0.6 rating recorded the same period last year, when KCET featured a familiar lineup of PBS programs. An average of 22,000 viewers tuned in to KCET during prime time this week; last year this time, it was 41,000.

The picture is even worse when ratings for the entire broadcasting day are considered. KCET is delivering a 0.1 household rating, compared with a 0.3 rating last year. KCET is now averaging just 10,000 viewers on an all-day basis.

KCET left PBS effective Jan. 1 after months of disputes over dues and other issues. One of the reasons for the split cited by KCET President and Chief Executive Al Jerome was the ratings erosion seen by PBS programming. Because KCET is an independent public broadcaster and does not sell commercial time the way an ad-supported network does, ratings are less critical than membership support. However, low viewing totals could indicate a lack of interest that would affect membership and pledging efforts.

The station has replaced signature PBS shows such as "Nova" and "Antiques Roadshow" with repeats of British series such as "Prime Suspect," as well as documentaries and news programs imported from Japan, Canada and elsewhere.

Station officials declined to elaborate on the numbers.

"We think it is much too early to evaluate the ratings, particularly since we're coming off a holiday weekend," spokeswoman Cathy Williams wrote in an e-mail.

—Scott Collins

'Swan,' 'Speech' are on Longlist

"Black Swan" and "The King's Speech" dominated the Longlist on Friday for the British Academy Film and Television Arts' Orange British Academy Film Awards. Each had 15 nominations.

The list is the result of the first round of voting by academy members.

The second round, which will narrow the contenders to five nominees per category, began Friday and closes Thursday. That list of nominations will be announced Jan. 18 and the BAFTA awards will be handed out Feb. 13.

The titles making the Longlist in the best film category are "127 Hours," "Another Year," "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "Made in Dagenham," "Shutter Island," "The Social Network," "The Town," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit" and "Winter's Bone."

—Susan King

People have more choices

The People's Choice Awards may have taken place Wednesday evening, but movie fans can still vote at through Jan. 24 for the American Film Market's second annual Favorite Film Pitch Contest.

This year's submissions, limited to 21/2 minutes each, were recorded in November at the American Film market.

A committee of industry leaders selected the finalists: Mouncey Ferguson ("Playdate"), Neal Heavener ("The Dragonlore Trilogy"), John Marshall Jones ("The Guest at Central Park West") and Michael Lipoma ("The Lost Notebooks of Jimmy Ganootz: Culinary Secrets of a Wise Guy on the Run").

—Susan King

'Jersey's' a hit, 'Mad Men' a go

Audiences certainly haven't tired of Snooki and the Situation. The third-season premiere of MTV's cultural phenom "Jersey Shore" on Thursday evening was the cable network's most watched series telecast ever with 8.45 million viewers.

Meanwhile, AMC's Emmy Award-winning period drama, "Mad Men" is returning for its fifth season. The cable networks' senior vice president announced Friday at the Television Critic's Assn. meeting in Pasadena that the show will come back, though no date has been secured.

—Susan King

O'Reilly gets Obama sit-down

Bill O'Reilly of Fox News will interview President Obama on Feb. 6 — Super Bowl Sunday — before the network's NFL championship game broadcast, marking the first sit-down interview between the two since Obama's presidential run in 2008. (During previous years' pregame presidential interviews, Obama has spoken with NBC's Matt Lauer and CBS' Katie Couric.)

The announcement comes during a week when O'Reilly insisted that if the GOP "oppose Obama all the time, the GOP will fail."

—Melissa Maerz

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