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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., March 24-26) -- basketball's bluebloods score highest

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Sunday’s marquee NCAA tournament matchup, North Carolina vs. Kentucky, drew the weekend’s biggest hoops crowds.

The Tar Heels’ last-second, two-point win over the Wildcats averaged 276,302 D-FW viewers on CBS, with 128,284 in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old age range.

But Sunday’s storm-enhanced 9 p.m. local newscast on Fox4 drew the day’s biggest overall crowd with 283,573 total viewers while running second to basketball with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Saturday’s NCAA games, both on TBS, were paced by Oregon’s upset win over Kansas, which averaged 145,422 total viewers and 64,142 within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

On Friday, CBS had the top draw with Kentucky’s win over UCLA. It had 152,693 total viewers and 73,763 in the 18-to-49 realm.

NBC’s 7 p.m. series finale of Grimm won its time slot in both total viewers (109,067) and 18-to-49-year-olds (41,692).

Here are Friday’s local news derby results.

TEGNA8 nipped NBC5 for the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 drew the most 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. races. At 6 p.m., NBC5 drew the most total viewers but Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds. The 5 p.m. golds went to TEGNA8 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds by paper-thin margins over NBC5 and TEGNA8. CBS11’s 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts were rubbed out by NCAA basketball.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Thurs., March 21-23) -- hoops hang in but are no slam dunk

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Thursday night’s quartet of Sweet 16 NCAA tournament games, the two most-watched ones on CBS, couldn’t beat ABC’s trio of sudsy serial dramas in overall audience appeal.

Grey’s Anatomy was the night’s top D-FW draw with 181,776 viewers before Scandal won the 8 p.m. hour with 138,151. Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast, also with 138,151 viewers then narrowly outdrew The Catch and the early portion of CBS’ Kansas-Purdue matchup, which became a Jayhawks rout in the second half.

CBS’ early game, a last-second, one-point win by Oregon over Michigan, ended up averaging 87,253 viewers before Kansas-Purdue perked up to 116,338. Both games had bigger audiences than TBS’ doubleheader of Gonzaga and West Virginia followed by Xavier-Arizona.

The CBS games fared considerably better among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, with the 7 to 8 p.m. portion of Gonzaga and Michigan spanking Grey’s Anatomy before Kansas-Purdue beat all competing prime-time and late night programming in this key demographic. The Kansas-Purdue matchup again ranked highest among the four games with 57,728 viewers in the 18-to-49-year-old realm.

Wednesday’s prime-time attractions were topped by the return of Fox’s Empire, which had 261,760 total viewers and 112,249 in the 18-to-49 age range. The preceding 7 p.m. launch of Fox’s Shots Fired drew 116,338 total viewers to run second in that hour to CBS’ Survivor: Game Changers (189,049). Survivor also won at 7 p.m. with 18-to-49-year-olds. NBC’s Chicago P.D. ran first at 9 p.m. in both ratings realms.

Hello Tuesday, where NBC’s 7 p.m. hour of The Voice easily ranked No. 1 among all programming with 312,657 total viewers and 99,420 within the 18-to-49 motherlode. But CBS’ usually potent NCIS-led lineup was in reruns from 7 to 10 p.m.

And now for the Tuesday-Thursday local news derby results.

Tuesday -- NBC5 won in total viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

The two stations tied for the most total viewers at 6 a.m., but the Peacock nipped Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 ran the table at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. golds went to TEGNA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Wednesday -- The 10 p.m. firsts were split between TEGNA8 in total viewers and NBC5 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The Peacock swept the 6 a.m. races and Fox4 did likewise at 5 p.m. TEGNA8 edged NBC5 in total viewers at 6 p.m. and Fox4 narrowly bested the Peacock in the 25-to-54 age range.

Thursday -- The 10 p.m. golds again were divided between TEGNA8 in total viewers and NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and also won at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds and 5 p.m. in total viewers. TEGNA8 drew the most total viewers at 6 p.m. and Fox4 broke through for a 5 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 measurement. CBS11’s 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts were preempted by CBS’ NCAA hoops coverage.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Former NBC5 consumer investigator Deanna Dewberry and growing family relocate to snowy clime


Let it snow: Former NBC5 consumer investigator Deanna Dewberry says her family’s two newest adoptees, Narajah and Kavion, have very quickly adapted to their new home. Photo: Deanna Dewberry

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Here’s a heart-warmer. After a nine-and-a-half month search, former NBC5 consumer investigator Deanna Dewberry has relocated to the snowier and considerably colder climes of Rochester, NY’s WHEC-TV.

She did not travel alone. Dewberry and her husband also were accompanied by their three children (two of them adopted last year from foster care) and Dewberry’s parents, for whom she’s caring. Starting on March 27th, she’ll be an anchor and investigative reporter for WHEC, the market’s NBC affiliate station. The Dewberrys’ first child, a son, was adopted 14 years ago.

“Lots of reasons why I decided on this gig, not the least of which is the extraordinarily family-friendly station and city,” Dewberry said in a message to unclebarky.com. “I wanted the best place for them that allowed me to do what I love. And this is it. But I’ll tell you, moving seven people and two dogs 1,400 miles is no joke.”

Dewberry said her parents likewise are “excited about experiencing the Northeast, an area they’ve never seen. The cold was a bit of a shock, but my kids love the snow.”

Dewberry had been prominently featured at NBC5 during her nearly four-year tenure at the station. But she left in June 2016, surprising many of her colleagues.

In a memo at the time to NBC5 staffers, vice president of news Mark Ginther said that Dewberry “is passionate about consumer reporting,” but also “passionate about anchoring. And we’ve allowed her to pursue such a job . . . Her hard work and commitment to consumer issues has educated our viewers, helped shape new legislation and helped us toward our goal of becoming the consumer leader in our market.”

The 1992 University of Texas at Austin graduate had joined NBC5 from CBS affiliate WISH-TV in Indianapolis. She had been at that station for seven years after likewise spending seven years as an anchor/reporter for WFAA-TV (Now TEGNA8) and the since scraped, Dallas-based Texas Cable News Network.

Dewberry obviously is a person of considerable fortitude and determination, having survived both leukemia and two bouts with breast cancer, the most recent in 2011.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., March 20) -- gotta sing, gotta dance

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
ABC launched its 5,687th edition of Dancing with the Stars Monday night. The best it could do was rhumba into second place opposite NBC’s competing two hours of The Voice.

The Peacock stayed in tune with 334,471 D-FW viewers for The Voice and 115,456 within the advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-old motherlode. DWTS ran an overall second from 7 to 9 p.m. with respective totals of 290,844 and 67,349 viewers.

CBS’ Scorpion then won at 9 p.m. in total viewers (167,235), but Fox4’s local newscast took the hour with 18-to-49-year-olds (54,521).

Here are Monday’s local news derby results.

NBC5 swept the 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers while the Peacock prevailed with 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 also ran first in total viewers at 6 p.m. and tied Fox4 for the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds. At 5 p.m. the two stations shared first place in total viewers while Fox4 barely beat the Peacock with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local TV news note: CBS11’s locally produced, one-hour special, Cowboys Super Reunion, will premiere at 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 25th. Hosted by sports anchor Bill Jones, it’s a look at the recent reunion of the team’s Super Bowl XXVIII-winning players and coaches. The event was organized by former Cowboys star QB/Hall of Famer Troy Aikman and benefited the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Attendees included coach Jimmy Johnson, Aikman and fellow Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., March 17-19) -- NCAA tourney starts bouncing higher (updated in bold face)

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
First of all, ratings for Friday’s SMU and Baylor games on little truTV were not available for the D-FW viewing area. Nor for that matter were Sunday’s, in which Baylor advanced to the NCAA basketball tourney’s Sweet 16 by surviving USC -- and truTV.

In other words, the “Funny Because It’s tru” network just isn’t considered to be of enough consequence for local stations to keep tabs on its ratings. Sorry about that.

(CBS11 sports anchor Bill Jones did, however, post a chart on Twitter Monday afternoon with household ratings (we use total viewers) for the weekend tournament games. Sunday’s Baylor-USC game had a 2.0 rating (54,266 households in a D-FW market of 2.713 million) to rank seventh among the tournament match ups. Friday’s SMU-USC game had just a 1.2 rating (32,560 households) to finish 12th among the weekend games. The early-starting Baylor-New Mexico State game is not listed on Jones’ chart. D-FW’s top draw, Kansas vs. Michigan on CBS, drew 132,952 households. The top six most-watched games all were on CBS.)

The NCAA perked up on Saturday and Sunday, at least for the games shown by CBS. Sunday’s late afternoon/early evening Kansas-Michigan State matchup ranked highest with 174,506 total viewers and 73,763 in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. That game and the preceding Kentucky-Wichita State face-off on CBS easily beat all competing programming in both ratings measurements.

In prime-time Sunday, the CBS prime-time lineup of 60 Minutes, NCIS: Los Angeles, Madam Secretary and Elementary outdrew all of its rivals in total viewers among the Big Four broadcast networks. But NBC’s trio of Little Big Shots, Chicago Justice and Shades of Blue ran the table with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Again coming up virtually empty was ABC’s second episode of the first-rate American Crime series. It ran a distant fourth from 9 to 10 p.m. in total viewers (29,084) and 18-to-49-year-olds (6,414).

On Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers’ big afternoon upset win over No. 1 overall seed Villanova ranked as the entire day’s top TV attraction with 138,151 total viewers on CBS. Friday’s nighttime NCAA match ups on CBS didn’t fare nearly as well. ABC’s 8 to 10 p.m. presentation, Truth and Lies: The Family Manson, more than doubled the ratings for basketball with 130,880 total viewers and also won comfortably in the 18-to-49-year-old realm with 38,485 viewers.

On all three days, the CBS tournament games drew bigger crowds than those on TBS and TNT.

Here are Friday’s local news derby numbers.

TEGNA8 topped the 10 p.m. ratings in total viewers while NBC5 led with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and won at both 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds. TEGNA8 drew the most total viewers at 5 and 6 p.m.

CBS11 had its 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts rubbed out by NCAA hoops coverage. And the station might as well not have bothered at 6 a.m., where its haul of 25-to-54-year-olds hit rock bottom and then some with -- 601. In comparison, frontrunner Fox4 had 39,087, trailed by NBC5 (28,864) and TEGNA8 (10,223).

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

No more Diana Zoga at D-FW's Fox4 (updated)


@unclebarkycom on Twitter
After just a two-year stay, Fox4 general assignment reporter Diana Zoga has parted ways with the station after the two sides apparently couldn’t agree on a new contract.

A New York-based Fox4 spokesperson confirmed Zoga’s departure Monday morning after the industry trade site ftvlive.com reported her exit earlier the same day. Her last day was Sunday, March 19th.

Zoga, who joined the Dallas-based station in March 2015, left behind an email to staffers, part of which was posted by ftvlive.

“I’m sure this seems sudden,” she said in part. “Unfortunately, it’s a decision I had to make quickly, but I want you to know I didn’t make it lightly. It was just a business deal that didn’t work out. It’s no one’s fault. And there are no hard feelings on either side.”

Zoga said her tenure at Fox4 amounted to “the most important two years of my career. I’ve learned a lot from you all. You pushed me to do better . . . Be kind to each other, continue to help each other dig and tell stories that matter. The business is tough and it’s going to get a lot tougher. You have to stick together because journalism needs you.”

Zoga so far has not returned a message asking for comment. The 1999 Plano East Senior High school graduate arrived back in North Texas from KMOV-TV in St. Louis, where she had spent seven years. She also is a graduate of the University of Texas.

(Zoga responded later Monday, reiterating there are “no hard feelings” between herself and Fox4 management, “but it just wasn’t the right contract for me.” Translated: Fox4 wanted to pay less than Zoga thinks she is worth.)

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., March 9 to Thursday, March 16) -- master blaster catchup round

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Nielsen’s lengthy, storm-related ratings delays presumably are in the past at this point. But we’ve got a lot of catching up to do after the full eight days of local numbers finally arrived late this week.

Thursday marked the tip-off the NCAA basketball tourney, with Uncle Barky’s alma mater Wisconsin Badgers capping off CBS’ nighttime coverage with a gritty win over Virginia Tech. It was the most-watched of CBS’ four games, but with just 79,982 total D-FW viewers and 25,657 in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-old demographic. That put Wisconsin-Virginia Tech well behind other prime-time and late night attractions. NBC’s 8 p.m. episode of Chicago Med ranked No. 1 in total viewers with 203,591 while ABC’s 7 p.m. hour of Grey’s Anatomy (which ended before Wisconsin-Virginia Tech began) was tops with 18-to-49-year-olds (67,349 opposite the closing portion of CBS’ Villanova-Mt. St. Mary’s matchup).

TNT, TBS and truTV also aired four tournament games apiece Thursday. Puny tru isn’t included so far in the local Nielsen reports, but stay tuned. Otherwise, the games on TNT and TBS haven’t been “titled” yet. But judging from published start times, TNT’s Xavier-Maryland game drew its biggest crowd and TBS scored highest with Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt.

Let’s move along at a quicker pace now.

Wednesday’s prime-time menu was led by Fox’s Lethal Weapon in total viewers (239,946) and NBC’s The Voice among 18-to-49-year-olds (76,970).

On Tuesday, NBC rolled to twin wins in prime-time with the 8 p.m. season finale of This Is Us. The season’s biggest first-year hit had 370,826 total viewers and 176,391 in the 18-to-49 realm. The Peacock’s double-pronged premiere of the “true crime” spoof Trial & Error then fell off a cliff with 18-to-49-year-olds. Each half-hour episode drew just 25,657 viewers in this key demographic. Even so, it was good enough for a second place finish from 9 to 10 p.m. behind Fox4’s local newscast (32,071 viewers).

The Monday night Nielsen parade was led by NBC’s 7 to 9 p.m. edition of The Voice in both total viewers (305,386) and 18-to-49-year-olds (96,213).

Sunday night brought the Season 3 premiere of ABC’s challenging but first-rate American Crime, which predictably crashed with a measly 65,440 total viewers to run fourth in its 9 p.m. slot in the Big Four broadcast network universe. It got worse with 18-to-49-year-olds, with American Crime luring just 12,828 of ‘em.

Let’s skip Saturday, because there’s nothing to see.

Friday’s overall top prime-time draw, CBS’ 8 p.m. episode of Hawaii Five-0, had 225,404 total viewers while NBC’s two-hour Dateline pulled in the most 18-to-49-year-olds (41,692).

Finally, the Thursday, March 9th prime-time Nielsens were led by CBS’ The Big Bang Theory in both total viewers (363,555) and 18-to-49ers (109,041).

Let’s wrap up with six weekdays’ worth of local news derby results.

Thursday, March 9 -- TEGNA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 had the most total viewers at 6 a.m., but NBC5 took the 25-to-54-year-old gold. The Peacock ran the table at 6 p.m. and also drew the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 5 p.m. Fox4 and NBC5 shared the total viewers lead at 5 p.m.

Friday -- NBC5 won at 10 p.m. in both ratings measurements and Fox4 did likewise at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Peacock took both golds at 6 p.m.

Monday -- TEGNA8 swept the 10 p.m. competitions while Fox4 scored twins at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. NBC5 stayed strong at 6 p.m. by running the table.

Tuesday -- CBS11 broke through with a 10 p.m. in total viewers, ending a prolonged drought. NBC5 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at that hour.

Fox4 led in total viewers at 6 a.m. while the Peacock was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 won in total viewers at 6 p.m. and shared the lead among 25-to-54-year-olds with Fox4 and TEGNA8. It was another split decision at 5 p.m., with NBC5 running first in total viewers but Fox4 narrowly taking the 25-to-54 gold.

Wednesday -- NBC5 came within a sliver of pulling off a very rare double grand slam. The Peacock swept the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. competitions and also won at 6 a.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds. But Fox4 edged NBC5 for the top spot at 6 a.m. in total viewers.

Thursday -- TEGNA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. while Fox4 and NBC5 divided the spoils at 6 a.m. and at 5 and 6 p.m. The Peacock had the most total viewers at 5 and 6 p.m., but Fox4 led both times with 25-to-54-year-olds. Things were reversed at 6 a.m., with Fox4 on top in total viewers and NBC5 winning with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11’s 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts were punched out by CBS’ basketball tournament coverage.

And that’s all, folks.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Pee-yew: SMU, Baylor get back-to-back day games on tawdry truTV


@unclebarkycom on Twitter
TruTV, self-described as “Funny Because It’s Tru,” tends to be not overly amused when it’s also branded a joke by snarky types like your friendly content provider.

Usually it’s not worth the trouble, because the network remains out of sight and out of mind in most cable and satellite homes. But its basic invisibility annually becomes an issue during the early stages of the NCAA basketball tournament, when tru shares space with CBS, TBS and TNT as part of a long-term licensing agreement. On the opening two days and nights of “March Madness,” truTV gets the same number of games -- eight -- as the other three far more-watched networks. For most viewers, this requires an archaeological dig if a game of particular interest gets the short straw and winds up on tru.

It all came to a head when the NCAA and its TV partners sentenced Texas’ two most prominent tournament qualifiers -- SMU and Baylor -- to Friday daytime slots on tru. No. 3 seed Baylor plays New Mexico State at 11:40 a.m., followed by No. 6 seed SMU vs. USC at 2:10 p.m. If both Texas teams win, only one can advance to the “Sweet 16,” because they’ll play each other on Sunday.

It’s assumed that most North Texas sports bars have tru and likely can find it in ample time to accommodate customers making early getaways from their places of employment. Still, no team should have to play on tru. And Texas teams are getting a double shaft with early games on a network whose biggest “success” story is Impractical Jokers. Here’s a drinking game that will get you sloshed before SMU and USC even tip off. Imbibe every time tru airs an Impractical Jokers promo. My over-under for the two games combined is 20 -- and that’s probably being conservative.

I earlier took a few pops at tru on Twitter. And tru fired back.

“Look, it’s uncle barky again! BARK. BARK. BARK.” the network twitted after I’d tweeted, “Trying to watch 2nd half of K State-Wake Forest NCAA play-in game on truTV & already hit with 4 #ImpracticalJokers spots. Subtract 2 IQ pts.”

An accompanying tru video attached to their retort has a woman saying that “every basketball season the Internet trolls love to come out and say that truTV is so hard to find. Which is fair. But a lot of things we want in life are hard to find. But for trolls, a willing vagina. But keep dreaming.”

I’m not sure I even have ties older than that joke. Still, this was getting to be fun. So I took the bait and responded, “A ‘troll’ with 7,700 Followers (a few thin-skinned Trumpeteers since have unfollowed). More than your audience. But at least I’m alerting viewers of your existence.”

TruTV again had something to say: “Three wildly ignorant statements in less than 140 characters and you still had room for the hashtag!” This time, in the accompanying video, a woman said of the NCAA games on tru: “They just are. And they will be for another 15 years. Deal with it.”

A little more Twitter banter ensued, but you probably get the picture, even if you don’t get tru. This is a network that’s armed and ready to defend itself as the current home of not only Impractical Jokers but of The Carbonaro Effect, Hack My Life, Fameless and Chris Webber’s Full Court Pranks. And as the former home of other gems such as Bait Car, Barmageddon, Hair-Jacked, Hardcore Pawn, Southern Fried Stings and Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, which I actually reviewed for some reason under the headline “Jesse Ventura body slams brain cells.” Charitably gave it a grade of D-minus.

No hard feelings, though. SMU and Baylor can’t help it they’ve been Siberia’d to truTV as a further sign of disdain for Texas-bred basketball. Some of that is understandable. The state hasn’t had a team in the Final Four since 2003, when the University of Texas got there. And before that it was Houston for three years in a row back in 1982-84.

In that sense, the truth hurts and tru may hurt even more. Playing there, compared to CBS, TBS or TNT, is the equivalent of winning $2 in the lottery or staying at the Desert Inn after it’s just been imploded. Or as my last so far unanswered Tweet back to tru read: “Exaggeration is the sincerest form of humor.”

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Former NBC5 sports reporter David Watkins finds a new arena


@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Another D-FW TV reporter -- this time David Watkins -- has left the profession and found another endeavor.

Watkins, a Plano West High graduate who joined the station’s sports staff in February 2012, says he “found the perfect landing spot” as the new Director of Business at Dallas-based Elevate Brand Marketing.

“For me it came down to work/life balance -- like anyone else leaving the business these days,” Watkins told unclebarky.com. “I’m a father now, and it was time to pursue a new career with a more traditional schedule. I have weekends off for the first time in my career. NBC5 was planning to move on from me anyway, so it worked out well for all parties.”

Watkins won three Lone Star Emmys and a regional Edward R. Murrow award during his five years with NBC5. He also anchored the Wingstop Inside High School Sports program for the station after originally joining NBC5 from KARE-TV in Minneapolis.

In the past several years, a number of seasoned local TV reporters have left their stations to find more stability and better hours in new lines of work. They include Brad Watson, Calvert Collins, Janet St. James, Craig Civale, Steve Stoler, Cynthia Vega, Casey Norton and Chris Hawes.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Two newcomers, one departure at NBC5

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Clockwise from upper left: Newcomers Marti Glaser, Lexi Houghtaling and the departing Brian Scott, whose last day at NBC5 is Friday.

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Denton County reporter Brian Scott is leaving Fort Worth-based NBC5 to join Fox-owned WOFL-TV in Orlando, FL, with his replacement, Marti Glaser, due to arrive on Monday, March 20th.

The station also has hired tongue-twisting Lexie Houghtaling as a multi-media journalist and backup traffic anchor. Her first day at NBC5 will be on Monday, March 27th.

NBC5 vice president of news Mark Ginther detailed the hirings and Brian Scott’s departure to unclebarky.com via a memo sent to station staffers.

Scott joined the station in January 2013 from KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Glaser arrives from KTNV-TV in Las Vegas and also has worked at stations in Albuquerque, West Palm Beach and Anchorage. Ginther describes her as a “very talented storyteller with a memorable personality.”

Houghtaling previously was with KBAK/KFBX-TV in Bakersfield, CA. She’s a Houston native, Ginther said.

Both of the new arrivals will be full-time NBC5 news staffers.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

D-FW stations call different plays in their handling of Ezekiel Elliott's very public fumble (updated with comments from Dale Hansen)


Fox4 easily had the heaviest coverage of Ezekiel Elliott’s St. Patrick’s Day parade activities. NBC5 in contrast had none. Frame grab: Ed Bark

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Ezekiel Elliott’s very public display of bad judgment at Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas inevitably surfaced in video form Monday on TMZ.com.

But how would D-FW’s four major TV news providers -- Fox4, NBC5, TEGNA8, CBS11 -- handle the story of Elliott exposing a woman’s breast on a rooftop bar while holding a beer in his other hand? A second video shows that Elliott then went in for a second helping, but was fended off by a woman who so far has pressed no charges and seemed to be in a very celebratory mood.

Compounding matters: the Dallas Cowboys’ star running back remains under NFL investigation for an allegation of domestic violence that otherwise has been dismissed by authorities. Elliott has said he wants “closure,” but his activities on Saturday don’t help his case and could be viewed by the NFL as a violation of its conduct policy even if not deemed to be any sort of criminal act.

Against this backdrop, Fox4 easily had the most extensive coverage of the incident on its featured 9 p.m. newscast Monday. On their 10 p.m. editions, TEGNA8 and CBS11 both offered cursory anchor “readers,” although TEGNA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen later joked about Elliott’s conduct during his nightly banter with weathercaster Pete Delkus.

NBC5 had no coverage at all. Asked about that decision, the station’s vice president of news, Mark Ginther, candidly said in an interview Tuesday that “our TV folks missed it. Our digital folks had it. It was an omission.”

Ginther said that NBC5 likely will follow up with a story on Tuesday’s newscasts because Elliott is a “notable person in the community. And with some questionable stuff that’s been done in the past and the NFL looking at it, it’s worth getting on the record.”

Fox4, whose weekday lineup includes two syndicated TMZ shows, made the Elliott video its second story Monday after substitute co-anchor Diana Zoga teased at the top, “Was this a St. Patrick’s Day party foul? The Cowboys’ Zeke Elliott caught on camera not keeping his hands to himself. What fans are saying and what the NFL isn’t.”

Reporter Natalie Solis later reported from Greenville Ave., where Elliott’s activities took place on Dodie’s rooftop bar. Josh Southard, manager of the nearby Blue Goose Cantina, said Elliott had patronized that establishment earlier in the day and was polite to everyone. He didn’t think the later party scene atop Dodie’s was any big deal.

Two women interviewed by Solis had mixed feelings. One said that Elliott “shouldn’t have done it, but no punishment.” The other termed his behavior as “rude,” but only if the woman “wasn’t OK with it.” Elliott’s representatives told TMZ that the woman “wasn’t upset” and continued to party with Elliott. The Cowboys and the NFL have declined to comment.

Clarence Hill, the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Cowboys beat reporter, talked to both Solis and Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy in a later interview on the newscast set. “It’s a bad look . . . He does have a lack of self-awareness,” Hill told Doocy.

Mendi Simons, a participant in the newscast’s closing “Viewers’ Voice” segment, offered an apt summation. “Yes, he’s only 21,” she said. “But surely he knows he’s in the limelight and needs to be extra careful of his public behavior . . . He needs to hang out with better people.”

On CBS11, co-anchor Ken Molestina said, “Just all part of St. Paddy’s Day fun” before anchor partner Kaley O’Kelley added, “That’s what reps for Zeke Elliott are saying.” That’s pretty much all CBS11 offered, save for a fleeting glimpse of Elliott and the woman in what amounted to a tease for Bill Jones’ regular sports segment. Jones made no further mention of the matter.

TEGNA8 also gave the story only brief exposure, with anchor John McCaa soberly telling viewers midway through the newscast that “Ezekiel Elliott’s behavior off the field could get him suspended . . . The incident might be a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.”

Delkus later noted that he was at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and had a lot of fun. He encouraged Hansen to attend some year.

“I think I’ll hang out with Zeke Elliott,” Hansen rejoined. “See how crazy that party can get . . . I have no idea what he was thinking about.”

Hansen repeatedly has blistered athletes’ treatment of women in “Unplugged” commentaries. A full-blown Unplugged wasn’t anticipated Monday night, but it was surprising to hear Hansen make light of Elliott’s infantile conduct. He so far hasn’t replied to an email sent Tuesday morning asking if he wanted to comment further.

(Hansen replied early Tuesday evening. “The fact that TMZ decided to run with the video doesn’t mean much to me,” he said via email. “I don’t think it lessens my stance on the abuse of women, and it sure as hell wasn’t me defending a Cowboys player, because I think you know I don’t. But right or wrong, I don’t see the story. Now had the woman complained and Elliott had done that without any implied consent, well, then I think I respond differently.”)

Bottom line: In my view, this clearly was a story, and NBC5’s Ginther was admirably upfront in admitting that his station basically blew it Monday night. Fox4’s comparatively extensive coverage was well-handled while TEGNA8 and CBS11 could and should have done more than they did. As for Hansen . . . well, he certainly can do better than basically laughing the whole thing off, especially given his track record of previous pointed commentaries. Elliott’s comportment clearly isn’t anywhere in the same league as other athletes’ physical violence against women. But what he did on that rooftop bar might have repercussions, as McCaa and others have noted.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., March 8) -- Survivor of the fittest

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CBS’ Survivor: Game Changers launched the “reality” franchise’s 34th edition Wednesday night while ABC returned Designated Survivor to its lineup after a lengthy hiatus.

ABC fared better, with Designated Survivor topping the 9 to 10 p.m. slot in both total D-FW viewers (174,506) and with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds (54,521).

Survivor: Game Changers, airing from 7 to 9 p.m., drew 123,609 total viewers and 41,692 in the 18-to-49 age range. In the total viewers measurement, that fell short of Fox’s competing Lethal Weapon (prime-time’s overall top draw with 239,946 viewers) and ABC’s 8 to 9 p.m. combo of Modern Family and black-ish. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, Survivor: Game Changers trailed those shows plus Fox’s 8 p.m. episode of Star.

Here are Wednesday’s local news derby results.

TEGNA8 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while NBC5 prevailed with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 scored twin wins at 6 a.m. while the Peacock did likewise at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. golds went to NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 realm.

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Former TEGNA8 meteorologist Wes Houx lands at CBS11 -- for now at least


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Meteorologist Wes Houx quickly has found a new D-FW home -- at least for the time being.

CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad confirmed Wednesday night that the former TEGNA weekend weathercaster has been hired as a freelancer and will “be filling in as needed.”

On Friday of last week, the station abruptly dropped meteorologist Lisa Villegas. Conrad also noted that another member of the CBS11 weather team, Jeff Jamison, begins a vacation on Thursday, March 9th.

Houx had joined TEGNA8 in May 2015, replacing Julie Bologna. But the station dropped him late last year, and his last day at TEGNA8 was on Dec. 4th. The station immediately hired Kyle Roberts from Oklahoma City’s KOKH-TV to replace him. Roberts was hired as a full-time news staffer. Houx had sought to be upgraded from his part-time status, but to no avail.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon.-Tues., March 6-7) -- Mavs get a Dirk bump

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After a dreadful start, the now surging Dallas Mavericks have still shot mostly air balls in the D-FW Nielsens.

Tuesday night’s historic game didn’t draw anything close to a turn away crowd. But Dirk Nowitzki’s electric performance in pursuit of the 30,000 career points mark more than doubled the team’s average rating this season. It took him just over one quarter to do something only other five other NBA legends have accomplished. Plus, the Mavericks routed the lowly Los Angeles Lakers to inch closer to the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

Mavs-Lakers drew 87,253 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest, with a peak crowd of 123,609 between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m. Better yet for the Mavs, a high percentage of those viewers were advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. The game averaged 57,728 viewers in that realm. hitting a high point of 80,178 between both 8:15 to 8:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 8:45 p.m.

For comparison in the cable universe, FX’s 9 p.m. Season 5 premiere of The Americans drew just 36,356 total viewers and 6,414 in the 18-to-49 age range.

CBS’ NCIS led all prime-time TV attractions Tuesday with 370,826 total viewers in the 7 p.m. hour. NBC’s This Is Us (334,471 viewers) and CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans (239,946) then took over from 8 to 10 p.m.

This Is Us again easily had the highest yield among 18-to-49-year-olds (141,112). NBC’s The Voice won the 7 p.m. hour in this key demographic (70,556 viewers) and Fox4’s local newscast won at 9 p.m. with 51,314 viewers.

In Monday’s prime-time festivities, NBC’s 7 to 9 p.m. edition of The Voice topped all programming with 363,555 total viewers. The overall 18-to-49 crown also went to The Voice (112,249 viewers). Fox4’s news then mopped up at 9 p.m. with wins in both ratings measurements.

Here are the local news derby results for Monday and Tuesday.

Monday -- NBC5 and TEGNA8 tied for the top spot in total viewers at 10 p.m. while the Peacock won outright with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Both 6 a.m. wins narrowly went to Fox4 over NBC5. TEGNA8 swept the 6 p.m. competitions. Fox4 drew the most total viewers at 5 p.m. and NBC5 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Tuesday -- NBC5 had a big day and night, running the table at both 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. while tying Fox4 at 6 a.m. for first place in both ratings measurements. The 5 p.m. golds went to the Peacock in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 age range.

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Sean Giggy in place as TEGNA8's new Daybreak feature reporter


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He’s been at Dallas-based TEGNA8 since January of this year, but to my knowledge no outside media source has reported his hiring yet.

We like to keep up and make things official here at unclebarky.com, though. So please welcome the uniquely named Sean Giggy as the station’s newest Daybreak feature reporter.

Giggy arrived from Waco’s CBS station, KWTX-TV, where he spent four years as a sports anchor and reporter, according to TEGNA8’s website bio. He previously worked at ABC affiliate WAOW-TV in Wausau, WI and earlier was a reporter with The Herald-Press in Huntington, Indiana. He was born and raised in the Hoosier state and replaces Brandon Hamilton on Daybreak.

NBC5 weather team's big wheels are rolled out in "Convoy" spot

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Fort Worth-based NBC5 continues to accentuate its weather team while also taking a countrified approach.

Its new one-minute “Weather Convoy” spot salutes the station’s Texas Storm Fleet with a hit-the-road, twang-centric takeoff on the 1975 hit single “Convoy,” and its signature CB chatter. In this case, chief meteorologist David Finfrock is first shown and heard saying, “Breaker 5, this here’s Thunder Truck.”

Temperature-takers Rick Mitchell and Grant Johnston are also behind some wheels while Brian James and the womenfolk, Samantha Davies and newcomer Keisha Burns, can be glimpsed back at the station. “We’re the ultimate storm trackin’ team,” says the accompanying voice-over.

It’s quite a cornpone contrast to TEGNA8’s ongoing “We Bring the Delkus” campaign, which portrays head forecaster Pete Delkus as a one-man, self-satisfied weather god.

Here’s NBC5’s newest weather push.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Sun., March 1-5) -- Little Big Shots returns like a cannon

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NBC’s Season 2 launch of Little Big Shots went boom Sunday night, leading all TV programming in total viewers.

The Steve Harvey-hosted showcase for kids with out-sized talents drew 334,471 D-FW viewers as a prime lead-in for the time slot premiere of the Peacock’s Chicago Justice and the Season 2 launch of Shades of Blue. Both likewise won their hours among the Big Four broadcast networks with respective totals of 203,591 and 159,964 viewers.

The night’s pair of new time travel series were lost in space. Fox’s 7:30 p.m. premiere of Making History and ABC’s two-hour first outing of Time After Time from 8 to 10 p.m. each drew just 65,440 viewers.

Over on FX, the acclaimed premiere of Feud: Bette and Joan, starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, turned out to be a popgun in the same-night Nielsens. The 9 p.m. hour had 29,812 viewers while a 10 p.m. encore dipped to 18,178. AMC’s 8 p.m. episode of The Walking Dead led all cable attractions with 276,302 viewers.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Little Big Shots easily topped all Big Four broadcast network programs with 102,627 viewers. Walking Dead again was the overall kingpin in this key demographic with 163,562 viewers.

In Friday’s prime-time ratings, CBS’ 8 p.m. rerun of Hawaii Five-0 topped all programming in total viewers with 167,235. Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast drew the most 18-to-49-year-olds (32,071). ABC’s 8 to 10 p.m. finale of the four-part, eight-hour When We Rise averaged 25,657 viewers in the 18-to-49 realm. That was good enough for first place in its first hour and second from 9 to 10 p.m.

On Thursday, NBC won the first two hours of prime-time in total viewers with The Voice (290,844) and Chicago Med (203,591) before Fox4’s news won from 9 to 10 p.m. with 189,049). The 18-to-49 golds went to The Voice, Fox’s My Kitchen Rules and the Fox4 newscast. When We Rise ran third from 8 to 9 p.m. and second in the 9 to 10 p.m. slot.

Here we go to Wednesday night, with NBC sweeping prime-time in total viewers with its “crossover event” trifecta of Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Justice. In the 18-to-49 motherlode, Fire and P.D. took the 7 to 9 p.m. hours before Fox4’s news again ran first at 9 p.m.

When We Rise drew its highest number of 18-to-49-year-olds -- 38,485 -- on this final night of the February “sweeps.” But against mostly first-run programming, it finished fourth from 8 to 9 p.m. and third from 9 to 10 p.m., beating only CBS’ competing reprise of Bull, a hasty replacement for the quickly canceled Doubt.

Here are the Wednesday-Friday local news derby results.

Wednesday -- NBC5 closed out the February sweeps robustly, winning at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming). Fox4 salvaged twin wins at 6 a.m.

Thursday -- TEGNA8 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m., but Fox4 won among 25-to-54-year-olds while also topping the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions in both ratings measurements.

NBC5 and TEGNA8 tied for the most total viewers at 6 p.m. while the Peacock won outright with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Friday -- TEGN8 and CBS11 tied for the most total viewers at 10 p.m. with NBC5 winning among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 ran first with total viewers at 6 a.m., but the Peacock took the 25-to-54-year-old gold.

Both 5 p.m. wins went to Fox4. The station also tied NBC5 for the most total viewers at 6 p.m. and won outright at that hour with 25-to-54-year-olds.

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Meteorologist Lisa Villegas has exited CBS11


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Meteorologist Lisa Villegas is history at D-FW’s CBS11.

Villegas is “no longer with the station,” director of communications Lori Conrad confirmed Friday to unclebarky.com. Her bio already has been removed from the CBS11 website.

Villegas, who joined the station in October 2014, lately had been doing the weather on CBS11’s weekend evening and 10 p.m. newscasts while also working two to three days on the weekday 4 p.m. news and occasionally filling in at 11 a.m. CBS11 doesn’t yet have a replacement schedule, Conrad said.

Villegas arrived from ABC affiliate KRGV-TV, which serves the Rio Grande Valley, and has a degree in meteorology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

In May of last year, Villegas was reprimanded by management for posting a provocative photo on her public Instagram account. It was quickly taken down.

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NBC5 fares best in low yield Feb. "sweeps" news wars

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NBC5 chalked up the most wins, Fox4 clung to first place at 6 a.m. and TEGNA8 reclaimed the 10 p.m. total viewers crown it lost in February 2016.

These ostensibly are the headlines from this year’s February ratings “sweeps.” But a bigger headline arguably is the continued year-to-year losses in local newscast audiences for the four major combatants.

As in February 2016, the month came and went without any major weather “events,” either genuine or overblown. An “arctic blast” or two always heats up the D-FW news ratings while unseasonably balmy weather tends to be an overall downer.

CBS11 would just as soon throw the whole month out. After a late night news win a year ago in the total viewers measurement, the station came away empty-handed and not even close to first place at 6 a.m. or 5, 6 and 10 p.m. The opposite was true for NBC5, which more than doubled its win total from a year ago. This included taking away both 6 p.m. crowns from TEGNA8.

Here are the final sweeps results in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming). Year-to-year audience decreases or increases are in parentheses.

10 P.M.

Total viewers
TEGNA8 -- 159,964 (minus 3,852)
NBC5 -- 138,151 (minus 10,863)
CBS11 -- 130,880 (minus 42,851)
Fox4 -- 101,795 (minus 19,881)

NBC5 -- 48,107 (minus 8,889)
Fox4 -- 42,094 (minus 20,498)
TEGNA8 -- 39,087 (minus 17,254)
CBS11 -- 27,060 (minus 14,281)

Comments: ABC affiliate TEGNA8 impressively regained first place in total viewers despite having the lowest 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-in audiences of any of the four combatants. CBS11 conversely had the strongest lead-in from its network, but still lost 42,851 viewers from a year ago. That’s easily more than the combined losses of its three rivals.

In the key 25-to-54-year-old demographic, NBC dethroned Fox4 and had the smallest audience drop-off from Feb. 2016. But this is the second straight February sweeps period in which all four stations suffered year-to-year audience drop-offs in both ratings measurements.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 87,253 (minus 48,304)
NBC5 -- 72,711 (minus 4,629)
TEGNA8 -- 65,440 (plus 3,540)
CBS11 -- 43,627 (minus 3,188)

Fox4 -- 45,101 (minus 17,729)
NBC5 -- 39,087 (minus 617)
TEGNA8 -- 27,060 (plus 4,648)
CBS11 -- 12,027 (minus 5,890)

Comments: -- Yes, Fox4 won. But given its substantial audiences losses, the station performed like a starting pitcher who goes the minimum five innings, gives up five home runs and ends up winning 10-9. The only plus side is that Fox4 rallied somewhat from a very slow start when regular co-anchor Lauren Przybyl returned to Good Day after missing the early portion of the sweeps with a double-fractured arm. Still, Fox4’s year-to-year falloff in both ratings measurements is gasp-worthy.

In contrast, TEGNA8’s Daybreak remained in third place but was the only station to sport audience gains. Both TEGNA8 and NBC5 are now at least in the early morning game courtesy of Fox4’s sharp fall-offs. Last year at this time it wasn’t even close, particularly in the total viewers measurement, where Fox4 beat runner-up NBC5 by more than 50,000.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 145,422 (plus 6,111)
TEGNA8 -- 138,151 (minus 1,160)
CBS11 -- 101,795 (minus 34,116)
Fox4 -- 94,524 (minus 15,678)

NBC5 -- 45,101 (plus 248)
Fox4 -- 33,078 (plus 2,744)
TEGNA8 -- 33,078 (minus 14,037)
CBS11 -- 27,060 (minus 887)

Comments: We generally break ties by taking the ratings points to a second digit (1.1 to 1.13 for instance). But these extra-precise measurements weren’t available this time. They only add or subtract relative handfuls of viewers anyway. So call it a tie between Fox4 and TEGNA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 gets a higher position in the above breakdown because it gained a small number of viewers while TEGNA8 showed a considerable deficit.

NBC5 won outright by being the only station to show increases, although modest, in both measurements. CBS11 in contrast hemorrhaged total viewers from a year ago while TEGNA8 easily had the biggest losses from Feb. 2016 in the 25-to-54-year-old realm.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
NBC5 -- 109,067 (minus 28,119)
Fox4 -- 101,795 (minus 11,098)
TEGNA8 -- 94,524 (minus 7,392)
CBS11 -- 72,711 (minus 20,777)

Fox4 -- 33,078 (plus 2,005)
NBC5 -- 33,078 (minus 1,566)
TEGNA8 -- 21,047 (minus 8,508)
CBS11 -- 15,034 (minus 5,473)

Comments: Fox4’s decision to remove Clarice Tinsley as the solo 5 p.m. anchor and replace her with Steve Eagar and Heather Hays seemed to pay off --- at least in the key 25-to-54 age range. The station also is helped a bit by the 4 to 5 p.m. showing of Judge Judy, which narrowly won that hour with 25-to-54-year-olds while NBC5 First At Four local newscast ran a close second.

In other February sweeps ratings news . . .

***Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast finished in a second-place tie with NBC network programing in total viewers, with the CBS entertainment lineup ranking first. Fox4 and NBC tied for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds during that hour, although the Peacock had a slightly stronger kick from 9:45 to 10 p.m.

***The three 4 p.m. local news hours were paced by NBC5 in total viewers, with TEGNA8 nipping CBS11 for second place. The Peacock also won among 25-to-54-year-olds while TEGNA8 and CBS11 tied for second.

***CBS11’s syndicated Wheel of Fortune continued to roll at 6:30 p.m., with a dominating win in total viewers versus the competing rag mags on Fox4, NBC5 and TEGNA8. Wheel also comfortably took the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds.

***TEGNA8’s homegrown Good Morning Texas continues to pay the bills with pay-for-play mini-infomercials. It’s otherwise no bargain in the 9 a.m. hour, running fourth in total viewers behind CBS Let’s Make A Deal, NBC’s Today and Fox4’s syndicated Live with Kelly. GMT also finished fourth among 25-to-54-year-olds, with Live with Kelly on top.

***The TEGNA corporation’s first significant syndicated venture, T.D. Jakes, continued to give TEGNA8’s 4 p.m. newscasts a lemon of a lead-in. NBC5’s syndicated Ellen dominated the hour in total viewers, with CBS11’s Dr. Phil second and Fox4’s TMZ Live! third ahead of Jakes. The 25-to-54-year-old demographic likewise was won by Ellen while Jakes again ran fourth.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 28) -- Trumpathon

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A more measured and statesmanlike “TelePrompTer Trump” emerged Tuesday night as the new President made his first address to Congress.

Generally positive reviews followed, although the network polarization continued. Fox News Channel drew the most viewers for the speech, which ran from 8:09 to 9:09 p.m. MSNBC placed last among the eight major networks covering the speech. The NBC broadcast network ran a solid second after its coverage benefited from a big lead-in advantage from The Voice, which hammered the competition from 7 to 8 p.m. Here’s the breakdown in total D-FW viewers.

Fox News Channel -- 254,489
NBC -- 218,133
Fox -- 159,964
CBS -- 145,422
ABC -- 123,609
Univision -- 116,338
CNN -- 87,253
PBS -- 43,627
MSNBC -- 29,084

The Voice drew 334,471 viewers to lead all prime-time programming on any single network.

Here are the local news derby results for the penultimate day of the February ratings “sweeps,” which end on Wednesday.

NBC5 swept the 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

The Peacock also ran the table at 6 a.m. and had the most total viewers at 5 and 6 p.m.

NBC5 and TEGNA8 tied for the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 6 p.m. while Fox4 broke through with a 5 p.m. win in that measurement.

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Press Club of Dallas reboots reporting awards


Press Club of Dallas president Scott Goldstein (right) and Hugh Aynesworth, for whom the organization’s new awards are named. Photo: Ed Bark

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The Press Club of Dallas’ annual awards for excellence in journalism officially returned to the living Wednesday with a call for entries.

They’ll now be known as the Hughies, in honor of longtime Press Club member and esteemed reporter Hugh Aynesworth, best known for his exhaustive coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and its aftermath. For starters, the only category will be investigative/enterprise journalism for the calendar year 2016.

“We’ve taken to calling the award the ‘Hughie’ with both respect and affection,” said Press Club president Scott Goldstein, who’s also chief of policy and communications for Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings. Goldstein said the Club hoped to expand to more categories in future years. This year’s competition will be statewide and open to electronic, print and online journalists. Entrant categories also will be defined by market or circulation sizes.

Formed in 1948, the Press Club had a long tradition of honoring Texas journalists at an annual Katie Awards event. But the awards were rocked by scandal after the 2006 ceremony, when it was discovered that former Press Club president Elizabeth Albanese had rigged the voting and awarded numerous Katies to herself over a three-year period. The 2007 Katie ceremony was canceled as a result before the awards were briefly revived in 2008 for their 50th anniversary. The Katies then vanished.

Previous Press Club president Frank Librio announced the intent to revive the awards at last June’s North Texas Legends event, which honors career achievement in journalism.

“The actions of one rogue person do not define our club,” he told a packed house at the downtown Dallas Sixth Floor Museum. The Press Club has held the Living Legends event since 2011, with 82 honorees to date.

Since September of 2015, the Press Club also has held events featuring retired WFAA8 investigative reporter Byron Harris; a quintet of trailblazing Dallas meteorologists; Texas native and venerated CBS News anchor-reporter Bob Schieffer; and the Dallas Cowboys radio team of Brad Sham, Babe Laufenberg and Kristi Scales.

The entry deadline for the first annual Hughies is April 15th, with a $55 submission fee. An official date for the awards ceremony hasn’t been set yet. Judges will all be from outside Texas, Goldstein said.

Compete information on the awards and how to enter are at pressclubdallas.com.

Note to readers: Ed Bark is a second-year member of the Press Club of Dallas board.

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