Now Here's the News
The winds blew and Washington area residents turned in droves to TV news Thursday night to get a reading on Hurricane Gloria . . .
A spokesman for Channel 9 claimed Friday that Thursday night the station registered its highest news ratings ever -- or at least as high as "anybody can remember" . . .
Particularly at 11 p.m., despite a strong NBC prime-time performance that night -- what with the debut of "The Cosby Show," etc. -- CBS affiliate Nine was the clear favorite among local news audiences . . .
From 11 to 11:30 that night, for instance, Nine news drew almost one-fourth of all 1.5 million TV homes in this market, and 39 percent of all sets-in-use in the area, according to Nielsen meters . . .
But Channels 4, 5 and 7 did very well, too . . . especially at 11 p.m., when it had become apparent that Gloria wouldn't hit the Washington region until almost drive time Friday morning and the need for the latest information was highest . . .
In the Arbitron ratings from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday (Nielsen numbers in parentheses), Nine news had a 14.7 rating and a 30 percent audience share (16.2/35), compared with a 9.4/20 (8.2/14) for Four and a 7.8/16 (7.3/15) for Seven (starting at 5:30) . . .
Between 6 and 7 p.m., Nine's average climbed to an 18.9/31 (20.5/35), Seven jumped to an 11.9/19 (9.8/17), and Four went up to 11.6/19 (12.0/21) . . .
At 10 p.m., Channel 5's hour news averaged a strong 11.6/20 in ARB (15.0/20) . . .
At 11 p.m., both Four and Nine elected to expand coverage. Four averaged a 15/30 ARB rating over its 54 minutes on the air; Nine did a 14.9/30 over 45 minutes while Seven did a 14.3/27 during its half hour . . .
One point to remember: During the prime-time hours on Thursday, NBC on Four had averaged a strong 41 percent of the Washington audience, CBS on Nine had a 23 share and ABC on Seven, a 15 . . .
Shares for the three affiliate news shows Thursday were up almost 20 points together over an average night. At 11 p.m., the stations attracted nearly 90 percent of the sets-in-use and about half the 1.5 million TV homes . . .
Reflecting the commitment of all local news stations to Gloria coverage, Nine had dispatched at least eight crews and reporters up and down the Middle Atlantic, hired two small planes and a helicopter and got help from CBS, the Christian Broadcasting Network and Gannett Broadcasting, which dispatched a mobile unit from Atlanta . . .
News numbers were also up on Friday night as folks apparently tuned in to see what Gloria had wrought in their favorite vacation haunts . . . Moving Right Along
As expected, the first casualty of the New Season is CBS' "Hometown," which debuted the week of Aug. 25 in 23rd place but declined steadily thereafter . . .
Widely dismissed as an undernourished takeoff on "The Big Chill," "Hometown" received the coup de Nielsen this week after it registered a slim 7.8 rating and a 12 percent audience share nationally in its Tuesday outing against a beefed-up ABC sitcom schedule and "The A-Team" premiere on NBC . . .
The series has averaged 11.3/19 over its six airings so far, after debuting in August with a 13.8/24 . . .
The last "Hometown" will be seen Oct. 15 after three more outings. CBS has not named a replacement as yet for one of CBS' least favorite time slots on one of CBS' least favorite nights of the week . . .
Looking at the ratings for the first week of the New Season, another early candidate for Solongsville would seem to be ABC's "The Fall Guy," which made the mistake of moving into the 8 p.m. Thursday time slot this season . . .
Up against Mr. Cosby on NBC and Mr. Magnum on CBS, Mr. Fall Guy did a real belly-flop, averaging only a 7.8/12 in the national Nielsens . . .
Other very early candidates for Oblivion would seem to be CBS' "Stir Crazy" and ABC's "Our Family Honor." The former didn't create an early audience on Wednesday night for CBS at 8 and the latter couldn't hold onto the "Moonlighting" audience Tuesday at 10 . . .
The clear early candidate for the Grateful Award (won hands down last year by NBC's "Family Ties") has to be "Growing Pains," that dreadful ABC sitcom starring Alan Thicke, which finds itself between "Who's the Boss?" and "Moonlighting" on ABC Tuesday night . . .
Catching up on the national ratings for Tuesday and Wednesday . . .
CBS continues out of it on Tuesday night but the first two hours of ABC's lineup stayed competitive with a two-hour "A-Team" premiere on NBC . . . "Remington Steele" whipped "Our Family Honor" on ABC at 10 . . .
On Wednesday NBC's "Highway to Heaven" beat the debut of "The Insiders" on ABC and both left "Stir Crazy" in the dust at 8.
At 9, "Dynasty" clobbered everybody, although its national Nielsen rating of 27.4/41 didn't quite match its own record of 27.7/40, set in January . . .
"Hotel" took its time period easily but CBS' "The Equalizer" finished ahead of the debut of "St. Elsewhere" . . .
On Thursday, national Nielsens showed "The Cosby Show" recorded a 24.4/37 as NBC averaged a 24.4/37 overall, compared with an 18.9/29 for CBS and an 11.3/17 for ABC. . . The Thursday win gave NBC the lead in the weekly ratings after four nights of the new season . . . Also in the News
Another contretemps at the White House Friday . . . when principal Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes refused to let a reporter accompany the single "pool" cameraman permitted to photograph President Reagan and visiting Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze as they walked the colonnade that connects the Oval Office with the White House living quarters . . .
The four Washington bureau chiefs who manage the TV pool -- from ABC, CBS, Cable News Network and NBC -- thereupon voted to destroy the tape that had already been made of the stroll . . .
And that action, in turn, prompted at least one nonmember of the pool -- Independent Network News bureau chief Elvera Ruby -- to complain that the unilateral action by the pool deprived viewers of a scene of "historical importance" . . .
Ruby charged Friday that INN as well as "Group W, Metromedia, and 'MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour' " were entitled to use the destroyed tape . . .
William Headline, CNN bureau chief and the chairman of the White House pool this month, Friday defended the 4-0 pool vote, explaining that "there were plenty of other pictures available of the meetings today" . . .
He confirmed the destruction of the tape was a first but said that "is an ancillary issue" since it was also the first time a cameraman had completed a disputed assignment "before we caught him" . . .
"Similar situations have arisen," said Headline, "but they've usually been worked out. One time when we complained about the absence of a pool reporter Speakes said, 'Okay, let's put everybody into the Rose Garden" . . .
"The White House reserves the right from time to time to have photo opportunities. But we have to have both pictorial and editorial coverage. They're the tools of our trade and if we don't get both we have only half the story" . . .
The pool members prefer "expanded" pool coverage in which all four members provide both a camera and a reporter. This was apparently the first time a "tight" (one-camera) pool did not also include a reporter, whether from TV or a print representative . . .
White House assistant press secretary Mark Weinberg Friday refused to comment on Speakes' decision not to allow a reporter to accompany the cameraman. . . .
"It is inappropriate for me to discuss coverage arrangements for one section of the press with another section of the press," he told a reporter. "I don't talk to TV about print or to print about TV. But thanks for checking" . . .