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Tue Nov 04 2003 16:17:51 ET

The top networks are suffering through a lackluster fall season partly because ``some of the programming just sucked,'' NBC's entertainment chief said on Tuesday.

``Our programming is not that good and the Nielsen sample is bad. End of story,'' said NBC's Jeff Zucker, speaking to the International Radio & Television Society Foundation.

AP reports: Zucker cited NBC's ``Coupling'' _ already canceled _ as NBC's biggest mistake of the season. Another series the network had high hopes for, Rob Lowe's ``The Lyon's Den,'' has also been taken off the air.

Zucker said he doesn't believe it's a coincidence that Nielsen's measurement of young male viewership has increased over the past three weeks after network complaints became public.

Young men, who may have been distracted by DVDs and video games, began returning to TV with the World Series, Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said.

Loftus noted that Nielsen received few complaints last year when the company's sample showed an increase in viewership among young men.

``When the numbers are up, it's the programming,'' he said. ``When the numbers are down, it's Nielsen.''


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