Television

US sniper coverage delivers record ratings

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MUMBAI: If there was any doubters as to the possibilities open to the news channel wannabes queuing up to launch over the next few months catch a load of this.

The Washington sniper case that has had all news channels in the US on a feeding frenzy has delivered record ratings for the all-news networks.

Fox News Channel, which had averaged 901,000 viewers for a total day since the sniper story broke in early October, averaged 1.7 million viewers for the day, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. CNN, which had averaged 767,000 on sniper-coverage days, attracted an average 1.3 million viewers Wednesday, reports emonline.com.

MSNBC, which had averaged 434,000 viewers since the first sniper shooting, averaged 676,000 on Wednesday. Prime-time viewership spiked to an average of 3.2 million viewers for Fox, 2.8 million for CNN and 1.4 million for MSNBC.

However, the monster ratings cannot detract from the fact that the obsessive coverage has been widely criticised as possibly having increased the death toll from the attacks. There were also accusations that speculation dominated reporting.

"The media engaged in overkill. It was all-sniper, all the time, and that heightened the fear level," Hill & Knowlton consultant was quoted as saying.

The flip side to this is that there are those who claim that the through aggressive reporting and unusual cooperation with the police, the press may have played a significant role in the capture of the suspects.

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