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NBC falters in key demographic

NEW YORK -- A week dominated by Fox's airing of the Super Bowl also resulted in a historic low for NBC.

NBC dropped to fourth place this season among viewers aged 18 to 49, the first time the network has ever been so low this late in a television season. That's the demographic NBC most cares about, because it's the audience the bulk of TV advertisers pay to reach.

NBC has won among this group for four years in a row, and for eight of the past nine years. As a result, it makes more than its rivals every spring when advertisers buy commercial space for the upcoming season.

So far this season, CBS leads among these young viewers, and has a commanding lead among viewers of all ages. ABC is second, and Fox moved past NBC this week on the strength of the Super Bowl. Among all viewers, NBC is a close third to ABC.

Without an unexpected hit, NBC could have trouble climbing out of fourth. CBS has the most dominant day-to-day schedule, ABC has the Academy Awards and hits like "Desperate Housewives," and Fox has four months worth of "American Idol" episodes.

Last week was a good week for the Fonz and friends: ABC's 30th anniversary special for "Happy Days" was seen by almost 20 million people. Fox is also seeing some promising numbers for the drama "House."

'The Contender' is moved again

NBC has moved its boxing reality series "The Contender" yet again, setting the show on Sundays and moving "American Dreams" out of its three-year home and onto Wednesday nights for the remainder of its season.

The moves are among several changes the network is making to its midseason schedule, including a special preview and new premiere date for the comedy "The Office" and an earlier start for the fourth "Law & Order" series.

"The Contender," a Mark Burnett-produced series in which 16 up-and-coming boxers vie for a $1 million prize, had been scheduled to premiere March 7 and then move to its regular spot at 8 p.m. Wednesdays. NBC has kept the 90-minute premiere but has shifted the show's regular home to 8 p.m. Sunday, beginning March 13. A second preview will air after "The Apprentice" on March 10.

NBC has also moved up the premiere date of "Law & Order: Trial by Jury." After a preview on , March 3, it will settle into its 10 p.m. Friday spot the following night. It takes over for "Medical Investigation."


'Boston Public' principal is back

"Boston Public" Principal Steven Harper is returning.

ABC says Chi McBride, who played Harper for four seasons on Fox's "Boston Public," will reprise the character for an episode of "Boston Legal" next month. Both "Boston" shows are produced by David E. Kelley.

The "Boston Legal" episode, set for March 13, finds Harper in legal hot water after he bans "certain network news coverage" at his school, the network says.


Cheadle in Sudan for 'Nightline'

Don Cheadle, the Oscar-nominated star of "Hotel Rwanda," is taking on the role of a reporter for a "Nightline" segment on the ethnic conflict in Sudan.

Cheadle reports on tonight's edition of the late-night ABC news program as a "special correspondent," the network says. The actor and "Nightline" producer Rick Wilkinson accompanied several members of Congress on a recent fact-finding mission to examine what many observers are calling genocide in the country's Darfur region.

Rebel groups in the region accuse the Sudanese government of funding Arab militias to wipe out non-Arab enclaves, a charge the government denies. Thousands of people have died in the fighting over the past two years, and nearly 2 million have left their homes for refugee camps.


Globe on NECN

Here's what's happening on "Around the Globe" today on NECN:

12:30 p.m.: "Globe at Home" -- Life at Home writer Linda Matchan and Boston artist Laura Evans, on turning trash into art.

4 p.m.: "Around the Globe"

6:30 p.m.: "New England Business Day"

8 p.m.: "NewsNight"

Schedule is subject to change.

Radio highlights

Noon WUMB-FM (91.9) -- "Live at Noon." Guests: The McKassons, Celtic musicians; Laura Cortese, fiddler and singer.

4 p.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Beethoven's Romance No. 1; Strauss's Music of the Spheres; Glazunov's Concert Waltz No. 2.

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