Television: The Only Wheel in Town

TV's toughest running drama of suspense and conflict draws a small but influential audience. At Lindy's in Manhattan, bookies take bets on the outcome of each month's cliff hanger, The Ratings. Across town on Madison Avenue, admen ante up with million-dollar chips, and on the same fateful turn, TV shows stake their survival, performers their jobs and networks their reputations. Every eye in TV is firmly fixed on the numbers that do what the batting average does for baseball, the big board for Wall Street and Debrett's for the peerage.

Last week, while executives...

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