Television: The Year That Rain Fell Up

TV viewing is off for the first time

All fall, broadcast and ad executives nervously peeked at the figures on their desks, then shut their eyes and turned the tallies face down, as if they hoped the whole thing would go away. Like scientists who had discovered that rain also falls up, they could not believe what they were seeing. Last week, however, the two rating services, Nielsen and Arbitron, confirmed their fears: in 1977, for the first time in history, television viewing declined.

For daytime audiences, the numbers were startling. From November 1976 to...

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