Katrina Coverage Rules Weekly Ratings

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Fox News Channel’s and Cable News Network’s coverage of the devastation wrought on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina vaulted the networks to the top of the basic-cable ratings list last week.

Fox News ranked first with a 3.6 household average in primetime and a 2.5 on a total-programming-day basis Aug. 29-Sept. 4. CNN was second in both measures, averaging a 2.8 and a 1.9, respectively, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

The natural disaster and its far-reaching fallout also pushed MSNBC into the top 10 -- a tie for ninth with a 1.2 in primetime and a 0.8, good for 10th place on a total-programming-day metric

Of the 29 shows that were in or shared a spot in the top 20 for the week, Fox News counted all but four of them.

As for the rest of primetime, Turner Network Television was third with a 2.7, followed by a 1.9 for Disney Channel and a 1.6 apiece for Nick at Nite and Lifetime Television. Rounding out the top 10: Spike TV and Cartoon Network, both with a 1.3; and ESPN and Turner South, which joined MSNBC in registering 1.2 averages.

Perennial total-programming-day leader Nickelodeon dropped to third with a 1.8 in the wake of the disaster coverage, while sister service and channel sharer NAN was fourth with a 1.3 and TNT fifth at a 1.2.