Debate Ratings Below '92 Showing

Ratings for Sunday's debate between President Clinton and GOP challenger Bob Dole appear to be lower than the first debate in 1992, according to preliminary results Monday from the 34 major cities metered by Nielsen.

In those cities, which account for more than half of U.S. households, the debate audience totaled just over 32% of all homes. The first presidential debate in 1992 was viewed in more than 38% of all U.S. homes.

The figures for Sunday include the four major broadcast networks only. More complete ratings, with results for CNN and other cable channels--as well as national network ratings--are expected to be issued today.

Viewing of the debate did remain steady and actually built slightly over the 90 minutes. NBC had the highest-rated debate coverage in those major TV markets.

ABC also carried a half-hour Ross Perot special Sunday. That program reached less than 4% of homes overall.

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