TV Ratings : Birth Episode Pushes 'Murphy' to Top

"Murphy Brown" turned out to be the highest-rated show on prime-time television last week--and that was before Vice President Dan Quayle stirred up a hornet's nest by criticizing the CBS comedy for depicting an unmarried woman giving birth to a son. "Murphy Brown" was seen by an estimated 33.7 million viewers in about 21 million homes. Of course, that wasn't the most-watched show of the week: That distinction went to Johnny Carson's final installment of "The Tonight Show" on Friday. But the NBC broadcast wasn't in prime time, so it wasn't on the A.C. Nielsen Co. list released Wednesday. Meanwhile, despite capturing the top three spots in prime time, CBS finished second overall for the week with an average 10.4 rating, behind NBC's 11. ABC had a 9.5, Fox got a 6.3 and PBS registered a 1.7.

* ABC won the battle of the awards shows last week. Its broadcast of the "American Comedy Awards" placed No. 23 among the week's 83 prime-time programs, while CBS' "Country Music Hall of Fame," which aired the same night, finished in a tie at No. 39.

Points Share 1. "Murphy Brown" (CBS) 23.0 35 2. "Evening Shade" (CBS) 17.9 27 3. "Northern Exposure" (CBS) 16.2 27 4. "Roseanne" (ABC) 16.0 25 5. "L.A. Law" (NBC) 15.5 27 * "American Comedy Awards" (ABC) 11.6 20

(Each rating point represents 921,000 homes. Share is the percentage of viewing audience.)

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