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Fox News still No. 1 in WNY but has taken a ratings hit

The popularity of the conservative Fox News channel in prime time has reportedly taken a national hit and is facing increased pressure from its liberal cable news competitor, MSNBC.

Inquiring minds want to know: What is happening in Buffalo?

The advantage Fox News has over its rivals remains strong in Western New York, where it has been a popular choice of cable news viewers.

However, the Fox News dominance of a year ago in prime time here has taken a big hit, too.

Fox, which has had to deal with the firing of popular host Bill O'Reilly and management departures, averaged a 2.2 local rating in the five weeks that started in May. MSNBC averaged a 1.34 rating for those weeks and CNN a 0.86 rating.

A year ago in May, Fox averaged a 2.8 rating here in prime time, more than triple the combined rating for MSNBC (0.5) and CNN (0.4).

Since January, Fox News has averaged about a 3 household rating, which is higher than MSNBC (about a 1.4 rating) and CNN (about a 0.8) combined.

The peak rating for Fox News here from the start of the year was a 4.2 in mid-January before President Trump's inauguration, and it averaged a rating higher than 3.3 until the end of February. O'Reilly was released in mid-April. Since the week of April 3, Fox News hasn't had a higher rating than 2.7 for any week.

It still has a comfortable local lead over MSNBC, which has had a national surge under Rachel Maddow. The closest MSNBC came to Fox locally was the week of May 15, when Fox won, 2.1-1.6, over MSNBC. CNN was third here with a 1.5 ,so it was a rare week when the combination of its two competitors exceeded the ratings for Fox News.

CNN, which is viewed as the least partisan news network, had seen its local ratings plummet to 0.4 the week of April 17 before recovering a week later to a 1.1. But it clearly is the third choice locally. The last time it beat MSNBC for second place was the week of Jan.16.

According to the digital news site Wrap, Fox News nationally was No. 1 among total viewers for the month of May, averaging about 500,000 more viewers than MSNBC. Fox News has been No.1 for 185 consecutive months or more than 15 years. However, MSNBC was No. 1 nationally in the key age 25-54 demographic during weekdays. Fox News won the demo when adding the weekend. Locally, Fox News won the demo, but its victory was by a much narrower margin this May than it was a year ago.

The Wrap added that the President Trump administration has fueled interest in cable news, with MSNBC growing 105 percent in prime time in May, compared with a year ago. The increased interest in cable news is evident in Buffalo, too. The three channels had a combined 4.4 rating points in Buffalo in May, compared to a 3.7 a year ago when Fox News dominated.

In the last two weeks, Fox News had won locally with a 1.9 rating that was higher than its rivals combined.

The New York Times speculated this week that MSNBC  "may be benefiting from the same 'resistance' effect that cemented Fox News in the top spot at the onset of Barack Obama’s presidency, when the channel was lifted by a wave of conservative discontent."

Say goodbye and good luck to several members of the Journalism Career Program at the local Scripps station, WKBW-TV (Channel 7) who were Syracuse University graduates in 2016 and hello to newcomers from the class of 2017.

Josh Bazan is remaining at Channel 7 as a multimedia journalist. Paola Suro left last month to work at the Scripps station in Cincinnati.

Bretton Keenan will be a digital MMJ and producer at the Scripps station in Cleveland, and Cole Ellenbogan will be a morning producer at the Scripps station in Palm Beach, Fla.

The new 2017 Syracuse graduates joining the station in July will be: MMJ Brittany Muller of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who has been an intern for a NBC affiliate in her home state and was captain of the water polo team at Syracuse.

MMJ Chris DiMaria, who has interned with CBS and Fox stations and with NBC Sports.

MMJ Jeff Slawson, who was born and raised in Williamsville and is a Williamsville North graduate. He interned at MSNBC and WPIX in New York City.

Digital producer Fatima Bangura, "who is originally from Staten Island but claims Richmond, Virginia as her honorary hometown." She was a production assistant for a MSNBC morning program last summer.


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