Numbers Game


Prime-time ratings often blur the reality of the television business. Even though they are the only numbers readily available to the news media, they tell only part of the story.

The distortion they tend to produce is especially pronounced when it comes to the single richest fiefdoms in present day television: basic cable networks.

Consider, for example, CNN, the oldest of the cable news networks. For the past 10 years, the story that has become a staple of print media is that CNN is in dire trouble because it is trounced by Fox in the prime-time ratings race.

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