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Maybe Change Isn't Good 

9 owns the Nielsens, NBC6 looks better

WBTV has been spending some advertising dollars of late, suggesting that "change is good," while also soliciting viewer feedback by phone and e-mail. There was indeed some change in the just-completed Nielsen ratings for February. But for Channel 3, it wasn't good. Top news ratings dog WSOC-TV managed to grow its already impressive numbers in local news in every slot except noon newscasts compared to ratings from a year ago.

Between 6 and 7am, when people are readying for work and getting young 'uns off to school, WSOC has almost double the number of viewers of WBTV and WCNC-TV. But within that time period, there's a small victory that may be a sign of battles to come between WBTV and WCNC. For the first time that I can recall, WCNC beat WBTV to take second place in that part of the morning. Granted, the CBS Early Show and a new anchor configuration hobble WBTV, but WChas plugged away and has assembled a morning team that's comfortable to watch.

For WSOC-TV, its most impressive showing is between 5 and 6:30pm, the main evening newscasts. They've been the newscasts of choice for Charlotte-area viewers for more than a decade now, but this February has been even more interesting.Although Channel 9 stayed about the same in the ratings numbers from last year, WBTV took a big dip, losing almost 16 percent in household share, while WCNC stayed a distant third, and at 11pm, WSOC-TV now boasts of 42 percent of all 11pm news viewers. Could this all be a by-product of WBTV's anchor shuffles in recent months?

At 10pm, WCCB-TV (Fox18) is surviving, and even thriving after some anchor changes and the departure of Mark Mathis. Fox Charlotte was first at 10pm over WAXN-TV and WBTV on WJZY's newscast. Is it just me, or is there really better news content on their newscasts these days?

Beyond the usual news races, it's also interesting to see what else viewers in the Charlotte area like to watch. You like Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, and Peter Jennings, but don't dig Jane Pauley or Tony Danza.

We also live in a market where soaps and Starting Over are more popular than the engaging Ellen Degeneres Show, and Jerry Springer draws more viewers than WCNC-TV's 11am news.

So now that Martha Stewart is out of the pokey and into a home arrest anklet, maybe a slice of humble pie with a side of contrition might be in order before she heads off to star in a Mark Burnett (of Survivor producing fame) spin-off of The Apprentice.

A role model? Not really. But then again, we still have Donald Trump to look up to. Stay tuned.

ADDENDUM: After just 6 months, WBTV News and former Charlotte City Councilwoman Lynn Wheeler have parted ways. Wheeler wasn brought on as a commentator, but then was used and trained on-air as a reporter. From the reports we saw, it wasn't working for either side. Wheeler complains publicly that she'd been held to a different standard than other reporters. Well, duh. She was a politician trying to become a reporter, which is quitean adjustment. Shoulda stuck with the commentary.

E-mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com.

Between 6 and 7am, WSOC has almost double the number of viewers of WBTV and WCNC-TV.

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