For cable news networks, the lull in the war on terrorism has meant fewer viewers.

CNN, Headline News, MSNBC and CNBC suffered double-digit drops in year-end ratings compared with 2001, the year that audiences flocked to television for updates on post-9/11 events.

Only Fox News experienced significant growth in total-day and prime time.

In 2002 it climbed 44 percent to an average of 667,000 total-day viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Second-place CNN slipped 7 percent to an average of 536,000 viewers. Third-place MSNBC tumbled 23 percent to 263,000.

CNBC dove 44 percent, and Headline News slipped 12 percent.

Nonetheless, several individual broadcasts gained viewers.

CNN's "American Morning With Paula Zahn" jumped 32 percent in total viewership, to an average of 509,000 in 2002. The show, however, still trails Fox News's "Fox and Friends."

MSNBC, which overhauled its schedule in July, recorded its biggest gains in time slots that it considers place holders.

The 7 p.m. "Countdown: Iraq" boosted the slot 20 percent vs. the third quarter, when the network aired "Nachman," now on at 5 p.m.

"MSNBC Reports," which succeeded "Ashleigh Banfield: On Location" at 10 p.m., has improved the slot by 30 percent.

Most networks, however, gained viewers in those specific slots during the October sniper attacks, when audiences likely tuned in after work or later before they turned in for the night.

Coverage of the shootings gave Fox News, CNN and MSNBC a boost in fourth-quarter total-audience ratings from the previous quarter.