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Stung by audience declines and media reports decrying the current state of network TV, ABC is lashing out with a new presentation that bashes rival broadcast and cable networks.

The presentation, dubbed "Perception vs. Reality," is said to have gone to some network affiliates and may be shared with TV critics at meetings that started Jan. 10. Whether ABC will also show the presentation to ad agencies and marketers is not known.

Using Nielsen Media Research numbers through mid-November, the report takes swipes at ABC's broadcast brethren, noting for example, "NBC is hemorrhaging audience."

And, after noting the perception that "UPN is in trouble," the presentation says the reality is "UPN is in deep trouble," noting more than two-thirds of the programming on UPN averages less than a 1 rating.

A UPN spokesman responded: "Given the ratings shortfall ABC has, they've got a lot of nerve talking about anyone else."


The WB also is deflated by the presentation, which notes, "The WB has the buzz as the network to reach teens and young women . . . but ABC has the viewers."

CBS and Fox also get their knocks. Citing the perception that CBS' audience has gotten younger and more male, the presentation says, "CBS remains great-grandma's favorite network."

And as for Fox rebounding from a poor season start to become a challenger to NBC in reaching adults 18 to 49 during prime time, the study says the reality is "Fox is down in 73% of half-hours for regular series."

While admitting ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football" is down 5% in adults 18 to 49 this season, the analysis says the show adds 0.5 of a rating point to ABC's weekly average.


All of the Big 4 broadcast networks were down in the 18-49 demo for the November sweeps, though ABC's wasn't the steepest descent. It had a 5.2 rating in the 18-49 group, down 7% from a year ago, while NBC slid 14% to a 5.9. CBS also was down 7%, to a 4.1, and Fox dropped 3% to a 5.7 rating.

As for cable, the ABC study cites the much bigger audiences the broadcast networks reach, as well as the fact cable's biggest audiences are drawn to sports and wrestling coverage.

What's surprising about the presentation is ABC's knocks on its sister broadcast networks. The broadcasters have discussed toning down the rhetoric between themselves to present a united front against the effective job the cable

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