MAGNA Reviews Cable's 4Q Ratings

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MAGNA Global USA -- which issued its "Media Insights: Primetime 4th Quarter
2002 Review" Tuesday -- said ad-supported basic cable once more posted gains,
"but not much."

MAGNA senior vice president and director of audience analysis Steve Sternberg
said, "Several of the traditionally highest-rated cable networks -- ESPN, TNT
[Turner Network Television], USA [Network], Nick [Nickelodeon] -- grew
year-to-year, while a couple of others -- Sci Fi [Channel], TLC [The Learning
Channel] -- moved into the top tier."

Still, he added, "It should be noted that while cable does continue to grow
as an entity, there are still only eight cable networks that average even a 1.0
[Nielsen Media Research] household rating, and only seven that manage even a 0.5
rating among adults 18 through 49."

An Interpublic Group of Cos. media-buying entity, MAGNA devoted the bulk of
its ratings report to the broadcast-television networks and their midseason

Sternberg doesn't see dramatic ratings gains coming from the first-quarter
fixes being implemented by the two most ailing broadcasters, ABC and Fox. For
ABC, he said, much will depend on whether several newcomers and a time-slot
change for The Practice can approach the strong numbers posted in the
fourth quarter by Monday Night Football and The Bachelor.

Although Fox's American Idol: Search for a Superstar should supply a needed ratings boost in the coming weeks, he
added, "Scripted series will be the key to Fox improving