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Don't Laugh: Comedies Rule

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This season, of the 22 comedies in syndication, 20 are off-network; the other two (think "Sex and the City") are off-cable.

In fact, this season, the 10 most popular comedies -- across broadcast, cable and syndication -- are:

Former CBS sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," former NBC sitcom "Seinfeld," CBS's comedy "King of Queens," former Fox series "That '70s Show," aged former NBC sitcom "Fresh Prince," former NBC sitcom "Friends," ex-ABC comedies "Full House" and "Roseanne," the can't-kill-it-with-a-stick "M*A*S*H," which first aired on CBS, and former ABC comedy "Home Improvement."

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One of the reasons TV suits hate a la carte (allowing cable subscribers to choose individual channels):

In 2006, the average U.S. home received 104 television channels, but the people in those homes watched only about 16 of them for more than 10 minutes per week, Nielsen Media Research says.

Put another way, that means each week you're watching only about 15 percent of the channels available in your home for at least the same length of time as it takes one "American Idol" contestant to prattle on about how incredible it was to meet what's left of Diana Ross, sing one of her old tunes, get blasted by the show's judges, beg viewers to vote for them, and cut to commercial break.

The number of channels each home could receive was a record, up from 96 in 2005 and 61 in 2000. But the percentage of available channels actually watched took a dive.

In 2000, when the average home received only those 61 channels, approximately 14 channels held your interest in a week for those golden 10 minutes or more.

* * *

"Extras" creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have formally said no to a third season of the series.

The two, who also form the creative team behind the British original version of "The Office," will wrap up "Extras" with a special; they did the same with "The Office."

"Extras," which follows the antics of struggling actor Andy Millman (Gervais) and his agent from hell, Darren Lamb (Merchant), has played on HBO in the States.

Merchant won a trophy for his work as Lamb at the United Kingdom's Royal Television Society awards last week.


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