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Expanded local sports coverage shrinks

This is what I'm thinking:

It is strike two for the expanded local sports coverage being offered by Channel 2 and Channel 7 on stations they are affiliated with.

Several weeks ago, Channel 2 cut the amount of time it alotted on the "Sportzone" segment of the 10 p.m. newscast on WNYO-TV. Now comes word that Channel 7's 7 p.m. nightly program, "Sportsnite," on WNGS-TV is going on hiatus after Friday's broadcast.

Channel 7 station manager Mike Nurse attributed the decision to the sports department's concentration on the Buffalo Sabres playoff run and the difficulty of going head-to-head with playoff games. The 7 p.m. program, hosted by John Murphy and other sports staffers, has struggled to get enough nightly viewers to even register a rating.

"With the Internet, ESPN and sports radio, sports has gone to a more on-demand world," said Nurse. "I was surprised neither our show or Channel 2's clicked, because there is a perception this is a great sports town."

Nurse added that Channel 7 remains "bullish" about carrying sports on WNGS and is still pursuing a deal that would enable the station to be carried on satellite dishes, which are very popular with sports fans. Nurse said he expects it to be done in four to six weeks.

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No truth to rumors

Channel 7 General Manager Bill Ransom says there is no truth to the rumors that the low-rated "AM Buffalo" and "PM Buffalo" are in jeopardy of being canceled. "I don't know where that came from," Ransom said, adding that both would return this fall. The 4 p.m. show seemed to be the most logical to go or be shortened to a half-hour, because it is giving the station's 5 p.m. news program a deadly lead-in.

Speaking of "AM Buffalo," one of its former hosts, Brian Kahle, is doing a new half-hour cable program from his Lockport home, "Kahle & Company," which he describes as being about "places to go and people to see." He has a radio show with the same title on WLVL-AM.

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'Idol' lagging here

Maybe the ouster of Sanjaya Malakar will juice the local ratings for "American Idol." Though WUTV still gets higher ratings here than the reality show does nationally, there has been a noticeable drop-off in recent weeks. According to the Fox affiliate, "Idol" is averaging 20.6 for the season here, 6 percent lower than the 21.9 it averaged at this point last season. The last 10 episodes have averaged a 19.8 percent rating, 7 percent lower than last year. Malakar's survival until last Wednesday made a mockery of the program, which is easily mocked anyway.

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More of 'The Tudors'

Showtime, which doesn't have to worry about ratings, has renewed its sexy series about young Henry the VIII, "The Tudors," for a second season. It also has given the reality series from Ira Glass, "This American Life," a second season.

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Last of 'Six Degrees'

To those who asked: The final episodes of "Six Degrees," which ABC has canceled, will begin airing on abc.com starting Friday.

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'24' off track

I don't think I've heard less buzz about a season of "24" than I have about this year's season, and it is beginning to show in the local ratings. The April 16 episode, which played opposite a Sabres playoff game, only had a 6.5 rating. As I've said before, the season went off track with a laughable plot line involving Jack Bauer's (Keifer Sutherland) family. And the decision to bring back President Logan (Gregory Itzin) and his wife, Martha (Jean Smart), was just silly.

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Isn't that special

MyNetwork TV, which has smartly moved away from airing nightly telenovelas, is moving "American Heiress" to Wednesday nights and pairing it with "Saints and Sinners" so it can concentrate on specials during the May sweeps. You have to love some of the titles of the specials, too. On May 1, there is "America's Trashiest Weddings." On May 8, there is the "Hooters Dream Girl Challenge." There also are specials about the late Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears. The network airs locally on WNYO-TV.

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Bad reality

Things went so poorly with reality shows on Sunday that NBC is carrying a feature film, "Along Came Polly," with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller, on the first Sunday of the sweeps. You might think they'd burn off episodes of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" instead.

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End of the road?

As if NBC isn't in enough prime time trouble, "Saturday Night Live" did a joke a few nights ago on the speculation that "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" are in jeopardy of being canceled. "ER" even is in trouble on Thursday nights. The medical series isn't even winning the 10 p.m. Thursday time slot in Buffalo, where it has always been extremely popular. CBS' "Shark" had a 12.8 rating here last Thursday to an 8.5 for "ER." "ER" barely finished ahead of the cliched ABC romantic soap opera, "October Road" (8.2) here. If "ER" struggles to beat "October Road," that could mean it is near the end of the road, too.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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