Spot the spin

April 2, 2010

Have a look at the highlighted paragraph in this article on the cratering ratings at CBS and ABC:

With buyouts and layoffs in progress, the mood at ABC News cannot be good. It was probably not enhanced by the ratings report for the first quarter of the year showing that the network’s evening newscast, “World News,” had sunk to the lowest numbers the program has had in a first quarter since the People Meter was introduced by Nielsen in 1987.

The same situation prevailed at CBS, where the “Evening News” also hit a new low for the months of January through March.

The beneficiary was NBC, where “Nightly News” scored its best first-quarter numbers since 2005.

Over all, the numbers were: 9.92 million viewers for NBC; 8.27 million for ABC and 6.45 million for CBS.

Is this a signal that viewers are abandoning network newscasts in droves?

Not really. The number of viewers still watching the three shows together — more than 24 million in the first quarter — continue to dwarf any news program on cable.

“Any news program on cable” means ” FOX. (MSNBC and CNN have their own ratings disasters. ) And the only way the vanishing viewership of the network news shows can be made to look good is to combine all three and compare it to just one?

There’s so much spin in that a top would get dizzy.