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‘Good Morning America’ Ratings Rise

January 26, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The rescue bid of Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson at ABC’s struggling ``Good Morning America″ has gotten off to a solid start.

Nielsen Media Research ratings for the duo’s first week were 25 percent higher than the show’s average numbers during the last three months of 1998.

Sawyer and Gibson replaced Lisa McRee and Kevin Newman on Jan. 18.

``I was very pleased and happy with the numbers,″ said Phyllis McGrady, the ABC executive in charge of the show. ``It sounds like people were tuning in to see them. But what made us feel good is that they decided to stick around for the week.″

NBC’s ``Today″ show had an average 6.1 million viewers last week and ``Good Morning America″ had 4.1 million. CBS’s ``This Morning″ had an average of 3 million viewers, Nielsen said Tuesday.

Gibson and Sawyer had 4.2 million viewers on the their first day, and the audience declined only slightly the rest of the week.

The audience for ``Good Morning America″ has been declining for years and reached what ABC hoped was its nadir during the last week of 1998. That week, CBS dropped ABC to third place in the morning standings for the first time in more than two decades.

Only days later, ABC announced its overhaul. Gibson returned after stepping down as host last year and Sawyer joined him. Their reign was announced as temporary but indefinite.

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