Television: When Things Are Rotten

"It is either a viewers' revolt or Nielsen has screwed up his figures," says one network executive. "I've been in this business since 1948," adds a New York rep for a number of major-market stations, "and I can't remember a crummier season than this one."

These are not aesthetic judgments. What is bugging the broadcasters is a drop of 4%—perhaps more—in the number of sets in use. Just as alarming is a fall-off in network ratings among viewers who are still bothering to tune in something or other. To date, helped by its nighttime...

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