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In one key TV rating measurement, “Alan Keyes is Making Sense” – scheduled to be broadcast for the last time tonight on MSNBC – has been pulling in better numbers than has the show that will replace it, “Ashleigh Banfield On Location.”

As WorldNetDaily reported, Keyes, whose 10 p.m. cable news show began in January, was offered a 4 p.m. timeslot by the network, but he rejected that offer, saying through his media representative, Bob Angelotti, that an afternoon show “would not reach our audience. Primetime hours are the most conducive to getting the message out.”

Banfield’s show has been running at 9 p.m. Eastern, just before Keyes, and in the network’s new primetime lineup will move to 10 p.m.

Since WND’s first report, the newssite has learned that Keyes’ last show will not be July 11, as had been understood by Keyes’ staff. Rather, MSNBC has informed Keyes that his final program will air tonight.

Cheryl Daly, MSNBC vice president of media relations, confirmed that while Banfield bested Keyes in the ratings game in February and March, beginning in April, Keyes brought in more of the key 25-54 age segment of viewers – even though Banfield attracted more households overall.

Rating information obtained by WND shows that this month, Keyes has continued to beat Banfield in males age 25-54, while competition in the overall 25-54 group has fluctuated depending on the night.

On June 17, for example, when Keyes broadcast portions of stunning documentaries on Arab violence training, he earned a rating of 0.3 in the measurement of all viewers, 25-54. Banfield pulled a 0.1 that night. Both hosts drew the same ratings the following night, but Banfield had a 0.2 to Keyes’ 0.1 on the third night that week, June 19.

The male 25-54 age segment is considered the most important group of viewers in terms of the value of television advertising. In none of the ratings WND examined did Banfield beat Keyes in that category.

When looking at the ratings in light of MSNBC’s decision on the Keyes show, it appears that the number of actual viewers, regardless of age, is the most important measurement to the network.

Said Daly, “Basically, [Keyes'] audience wasn’t large enough.”

Far from reporting Keyes’ audience as too small, recent MSNBC competitive reports proudly highlight the growth of his audience.

“Alan Keyes at 10 p.m. and Brian Williams’ 11 p.m. encore both experience the most quarter to quarter growth of any news net(work) – +20 percent and +10 percent respectively,” said a report dated May 13.

The report dated May 27, just one month ago, touts Keyes’ quick growth since January: “Alan Keyes jumps 21 percent over [the first quarter of 2002] – more than competing news networks in the time period.”

Finally, in the MSNBC June 10 report, the network says, “Alan Keyes grows even more – +38 percent week to week.”

‘A difficult mission’

After news of Keyes’ bumping first got out, his supporters began campaigns to contact MSNBC demanding that the show remain on the network in its 10 p.m. timeslot. Many believe officials at MSNBC are purposely silencing Keyes because of his support for Israel in its battle against the Palestinian intifada.

Phil Griffin, vice president of prime time at MSNBC, disagreed with that characterization.

“We are not squelching his voice at all; he has had free rein,” Griffin told WND, saying the proposed move to 4 p.m. was considered a way to help Keyes build his audience. The executive said that “there is no agenda” to silence Keyes.

“It’s difficult for a guy to try to go on” at 10 p.m. and be successful, commented Griffin. “The pressure was so severe. We hoped he would work out at 10 p.m., but that was a difficult mission.”

Referring to the idea of moving Keyes to 4 p.m., Griffin said the network thought that Keyes’ show following a new debate show featuring Pat Buchanan and Bill Press – scheduled to run from 2 to 4 p.m. – would be a great fit.

“We thought it would be perfect to get an audience for Alan,” he said. “We were trying to save the show.”

Keyes’ people, however, believe the audience most responsive to him is not watching TV at 4 p.m. Eastern, especially not those in the Pacific time zone, who would have had to tune into the show at 1 p.m.

The network is planning a new show at 8 p.m. hosted by Phil Donahue and will move “Hardball with Chris Matthews” to the 9 p.m. slot.

Meanwhile, supporters of Keyes are making a last-ditch effort to keep his show on the network at 10 p.m.

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim, whose website Mesora.org has sponsored an e-mail petition drive in support of Keyes, sent out an e-mail blast urging readers to pass the word about the petition and announcing that today’s show is scheduled to be Keyes’ last. At press time, Ben-Chaim’s petition had been “signed” by over 46,000 Net users.

Related story:

MSNBC pulling plug on Keyes

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