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Battle of the networks

Despite the best efforts of programming whiz Fred Silverman, NBC-TV continues to trail its competition. The battle for prime-time supremacy during the 1980- 81 season, according to a study by Merrill-Lynch, turned out like this:

CBS ABC NBC Shows in top 5 4 1 0 Shows in Top 10 8 2 0 Shows in Top 20 11 6 3

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Daytime programs are also important money-makers. But NBC fared hardly any betther there:

CBS ABC NBC Shows in Top 5 2 3 0 Shows in Top 10 5 5 0 Shows in Top 20 9 7 4

In spite of these problems, NBC revenue -- $1.57 billion in 1980 -- should rise 7 to 10 percent in the coming season, Merrill-Lynch estimates. CBS, first in the ratings, should see its revenues rise even more -- 12-14 percent from 1980's $1.70 billion. ABC, which has lost its first-place position, has seen its market share erode in the face of stiffened competition from CBS. Next year could be more of the same, and revenues -- $1.88 billion -- are projected to increase only 6-7 percent, the lowest among the Big Thr ee.

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