For WJZ, Baltimore's CBS affiliate, the July "sweeps" were cause for celebration yesterday, the station said.
New ratings numbers showed that its 4 p.m. newscast had beaten powerhouse The Oprah Winfrey Show, aired by its chief competitor, WBAL, for the first time since February 2003.
WJZ, Channel 13, said the viewership of the newscast had grown last month by 14 percent over July a year ago, for a total of 55,000 households, 2,000 more than were watching Oprah on WBAL, Channel 11. WJZ said Oprah lost 27 percent of its ratings from the corresponding period last year.
WBAL countered that the reason for the decline in Winfrey's numbers was that her show is in reruns for all of June, July and August. The new season of Oprah is set to launch Sept. 10.
"The only difference between encore Oprah shows and WJZ's first-run 4 p.m. news was two-tenths of a point," said Jordan Wertlieb, president and general manager of WBAL.
A spokeswoman for the station said the difference amounted to 2,194 households.
"Oprah is still the No. 1 talk show in the market over her closest competitor, Dr. Phil, by 20 percent," Wertlieb said.
Dr. Phil airs on WJZ.
In most time periods, WBAL continued to lead the Baltimore television market in the July ratings. WJZ's noon newscast had more than twice the number of households than WBAL's - 66,000 to 29,000, with WMAR, Channel 2, the ABC affiliate, in third place with 16,000 - WBAL left the pack behind with its 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news shows. At 11 p.m., the NBC affiliate's 96,000 households were well ahead of WJZ's 78,000 and WMAR's 24,000.