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AMERIKA : Monday-Night Ratings Surrender 9 Points, but ABC Proclaims: ‘We’re Encouraged’

As many in the television industry had expected, the audience for ABC’s “Amerika” showed a marked drop Monday night from Sunday’s opening chapter, according to overnight ratings for 13 major cities.

The figures from A.C. Nielsen Co. showed that the second installment of the controversial miniseries got a 33% share of the audience from 9 to 11 p.m.--down nine percentage points from the overnight ratings in those cities for “Amerika’s” Sunday-night premiere. Despite the drop, an ABC spokesman here insisted Tuesday that “we’re encouraged. This (Monday’s overnight ratings figure) is a good number.”

ABC has declined to say officially what it thinks “Amerika” will average in ratings during its seven-night run. But before the show’s premiere, sources at the network had said a 35% to 40% share-of-audience was expected.

A heavy tune-in of the premiere had been predicted because of viewer curiosity fueled by controversy over the “Amerika” story, which depicts life in the United States 10 years after a bloodless takeover by the Soviet Union.

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The large opening-night audience did materialize, but not in blockbuster proportions. While overnight ratings Monday had shown “Amerika” doing well in Los Angeles and 12 other major cities, national numbers released Tuesday indicated that the rest of the nation wasn’t quite as interested in the proceedings.

The national returns for Sunday showed “Amerika” attracting 38% of the audience in its time period, compared to a 42% average for the 13 cities sampled in preliminary overnight ratings for that evening.

The $41-million miniseries won Sunday night’s ratings race and was seen in more than 22.2 million homes, making it the seventh-most-watched program of the week.

NBC’s fare--a TV movie called “The Facts of Life Down Under"--was seen in 18.7 million homes and got 32% of the viewing audience. CBS’ offerings--two sitcoms and an episode of “Hard Copy"--were a distant third, seen in more than 8.8 million homes for 15% of the national audience.

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Of the three network news programs Monday night, only ABC’s “World News Tonight” made any reference to “Amerika.” The ABC News program briefly noted that some people had protested the miniseries by picketing several ABC-affiliated stations the previous evening.

That was followed by a longer story about the U.S. Army’s occupation of the Soviet port city of Vladivostok in 1918, during Russia’s civil war. A Soviet spokesman interviewed for the story called that two-year occupation a “calculated invasion.”

In his conclusion, ABC correspondent John McKenzie noted that “the occupation was not long or large or bloody. But this week, as Americans watch a fictionalized (Soviet) invasion of America, the Soviets remind us that in reality we invaded them.”


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