65 mn Americans tune into Bush Kerry debate

MUMBAI: Last week's first presidential debate for the upcoming US elections turned out to be a ratings bonanza for the US broadcast networks. Over 65 million viewers watched Thursday's presidential debate.

In India the event aired live on CNN and BBC early Friday morning.

Reports indicate that the debate had 16 million more viewers than the first debate between Bush and Gore four years ago.

Data from Nielsen Media Research indicated that 62.5 million people tuned into the 90-minute debate on the major networks. One must keep in mind the fact that this figure did not include viewers of C-Span or public TV. When you include this the figure exceeds 65 million.

NBC, with 17.2 million viewers, topped the seven networks that aired the 90-minute debate, Nielsen said that 3.5 million tuned to CBS. Meanwhile 11.5 million viewers watched Disney's ABC. Fox's coverage was seen by 5.2 million. Fox News Channel was seen by a total of 9,561,000

CNN was seen by 4.4 million (versus 3.3 million in 2000) and MSNBC by 1.2 million (versus one million), according to Nielsen.

What was interesting is that the networks ignored Bush and Kerry campaign wishes that they not air reaction shots and President Bush's occasionally peeved expression showed why they couldn't resist.

C-Span's chairman and CEO Brian Lamb was quoted in an AP report saying, "If you were in the audience and in the room, you got to see the reactions. Why shouldn't the public?"

The second presidential debate is scheduled for 8 October. Fox will not televise that debate because of baseball playoffs.

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