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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., March 15) -- "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) in key demos for CW33's 9 p.m. news

It's come to this. In a No. 5 market with 6.9 million available viewers, CW33's Tuesday edition of its 9 p.m. local newscast received the dreaded "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) in the key younger demographics measured by Nielsen Media Research.

The newscast did manage to entice 10,389 total D-FW viewers, compared to the 232,011 drawn by Fox4's competing local edition. But Nielsen said the station came up completely empty among 18-to-34-year-olds, 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds.

Oh, there may have been 10 or 20 viewers of these ages who watched all or part of CW33's news. But it wasn't enough to move the Nielsen needle among demographic groups that CW33 has been avidly courting. That includes the 18-to-34-year-olds targeted by the CW network.

CW33 wasn't helped by an 8 p.m. repeat of CW's Hellcats, which had minimal audiences in those three demographic groups. But a broadcast station coming up with nothing is virtually unheard of in prime-time. Even Ch. 52's pair of competing 9-10 p.m. old chestnuts, All in the Family and Sanford and Son, respectively drew 13,162 and 9,696 viewers in the 18-to-49 age range.

So the 9 p.m. Tribune-owned CW33 newscast officially has hit rock bottom in times when Houston's Tribune-owned station, (KIAH-TV/Ch. 39), is proceeding with plans to launch NewsFix this weekend, according to a detailed report in the Houston Chronicle by David Barron. Among the new presenters is Harris County constable Victor Trevino, who will give viewers the nightly crime report.

"We are reallocating the screen time that used to go to anchors and reporters and using that to give the viewer more content," KIAH general manager Roger Bare explained to the Chronicle.

Instead the news will have an off-camera narrator, Gregory Onofrio, a onetime Dallas and Houston radio deejay who also will appear on camera for the newscasts' nightly "Closing Comments." Besides that, he'll be doing the weather. And no, that's not a joke, although what's left of the "newscast" might turn out to be.

CW33 news director David Duitch has told unclebarky.com that such drastic changes won't be happening here. But one wonders. And in the end, the locals have nothing to say about it anyway. If Tribune deems NewsFix a success, then its other owned stations will follow in line. At KIAH, the chief meteorologist left last week and the sports anchor's last day is Friday. Former 9 p.m. news anchor Steve Simon will still get some face time -- on a segment titled "Simon Says."

OK, enough. In other Tuesday ratings, CBS' 7 p.m. repeat of NCIS topped all prime-time attractions with 311,657 total viewers, edging Fox's competing new episode of Glee (297,805 viewers). But Glee easily was the night's most-watched program among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

A rerun of CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles won the 8 p.m. hour in total viewers. The 18-to-49 laurels went to Fox's new half-hour of Raising Hope and NBC's closing half-hour of The Biggest Loser. Fox4's local newscast won at 9 p.m. in both ratings measurements.

Tuesday's four-way local news competitions left only CBS11 out of a winner's circle.

WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but again took a hard fall among 25-to-54-year-olds, where Fox4 placed comfortably on top while NBC5 took the runner-up spot.

The Peacock and Fox4 tied for first place at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 again taking the 25-to-54 gold.

WFAA8 made a solid showing in the early evening, sweeping the 6 p.m. competitions and tying Fox4 for the 5 p.m. top spot in total viewers. Fox4 edged WFAA8 at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic.