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REMOTE PATROL

NEWSMAKERS

The contract of WTSP-Ch. 10 sports director John Nugent will not be renewed, the station's president and general manager, Sam Rosenwasser, confirmed Thursday.

Rosenwasser would not comment further, saying it was a personnel matter, and would not say when the station would begin a search for his replacement.

"They wanted to go in a different direction," Nugent said he was told. "You can interpret that to mean anything.

"My response to that is our ratings are up and our (ratings in the 18-49 demographic) are at an unprecedented high. I don't take the credit for that, but I am a small part of a news operation that has steadily and successfully grown over the past five years."

Nugent said his contract ends in early April. "My preference is to stay here and I have talked to some of the other stations and outlets in the area," he said.

RATINGS WATCH

NBC's broadcast of Sunday's Daytona 500 garnered the highest ratings for any NASCAR event in history. The race drew an 11.8 rating and 23 share, and was seen at least in part by 37-million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Ch. 8 drew a 12.3 rating, tops locally among Sunday's televised sporting events.

The previous high national rating for Daytona was 10.9, achieved by Fox in 2005 and NBC in 2002. NBC credits its Winter Olympics coverage for bringing in more viewers to its other sports properties.

CHECK IT OUT

Fox begins its Nextel Cup coverage Sunday with its broadcast of the Auto Club 500 beginning at 3:30 p.m. with the prerace show. Look for the new weekly prerace segment, in which analysts Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip take viewers around each track in a two-seat race car to highlight its unique features and special challenges. The race from California Speedway begins at 5. Waltrip, by the way, recently signed a contract extension to stay with the network through the bulk of its new deal with NASCAR, which ends in 2014, Fox announced Thursday.

CHANNEL SURFING

+ Paul Porter, the Magic's booming PA announcer, will get some national exposure Sunday. NBA TV (available locally to some Bright House and satellite subscribers) will go commentator-free for the Magic-Rockets game at 3:30 p.m. airing a so-called "silent game" in high definition. The network is installing enhanced microphones to pick up more sound from the arena - not that it would be needed to hear Porter's play-by-play. The game also airs on Sun Sports with regular announcers David Steele and Matt Guokas.

+ If you're having trouble sleeping Tuesday night, the Best Damn Sports Show Period marks its 1,000th show at 1 a.m. Wednesday (FSN Florida). Original cast member Tom Arnold will make an appearance.

QUOTABLE

"This is one nutty sport. It is crackling good television, but it's a little odd. I mean, the way that you can just pretty much play under any flag, huh? Tanith Belbin just a couple of months ago was Canadian. I mean when she got the phone call that she was an American, what did she say, "Get out of here'?"

- MARY CARILLO, co-host of USA Network's Olympic Ice

"He made (his talent) evidently clear to us back in late October when he flew into New York less than 12 hours after a Monday night game. He showed up, did his audition in New York with Cris (Collins-

worth) and Bob (Costas) and literally blew us away. He really knew the inside story of so many people in the league, which I can believe comes directly from the fact that he is so widely respected by the players."

- DICK EBERSOL NBC Sports chairman, on the decision to hire retired Steelers running back Jerome Bettis as a studio analyst for its Sunday night football coverage

- SHARON GINN, Times correspondent

TELEVISION RATINGS

SATURDAY

Broadcast Local

Winter Olympics (primetime), Ch. 8 11.2

Winter Olympics (daytime), Ch. 8 4.5

MBB: Florida-Arkansas, Ch. 38 1.8

PGA: Nissan Open, Ch. 28 1.4

MBB: Tennessee-Alabama, Ch. 38 1.2

MBB: UConn.-West Virginia, Ch. 10 1.0

MBB: FSU-Virginia, Ch. 44 1.0

MBB: N.C. State-Va. Tech, Ch. 28 0.8

MBB: Kentucky-S. Carolina, Ch. 10 0.4

MBB: USF-Rutgers, Ch. 28 0.3

Cable Local

Olympic Ice, USA 2.7

Winter Olympics (daytime), MSNBC 1.2

NBA: All-Star pregame coverage, TNT 0.9

MBB: Michigan-Michigan St., ESPN 0.7

Winter Olympics (daytime), CNBC 0.6

NCAA softball: Florida-Miami, Sun 0.2

MBB: LSU-Auburn, Sun 0.2

MBB: Charleston-Fordham, ESPN 0.2

MBB: La. Tech-Southern Ill., ESPN2 0.2

MBB: G. Mason-Wichita St., ESPN2 0.1

NCAA baseball: UF-Miami, Sun 0.0

MBB: Vanderbilt-Georgia, Sun 0.0

MBB: Marist-Old Dominion, ESPN2 0.0

MBB: Bucknell-N. Iowa, ESPN2 0.0

MBB: Mo. St.-Wis.-M'waukee, ESPN2 0.0

WBB: Cal-Arizona St., FSN 0.0

WBB: USC-UCLA, FSN 0.0

WBB: Kansas-Iowa St., FSN 0.0

SUNDAY

Broadcast Local

NASCAR: Daytona 500, Ch. 8 12.3

Winter Olympics (prime time), Ch. 8 12.0

Winter Olympics (daytime), Ch. 8 3.3

PGA: Nissan Open, Ch. 28 2.0

MBB: Indiana-Illinois, Ch. 10 1.6

MBB: N. Carolina-Wake Forest, Ch. 28 0.8

NASCAR: Raceday Live, Ch. 32 0.7

Cable Local

Olympic Ice, USA 2.0

NBA All-Star Game, TNT 1.4

Winter Olympics (daytime 2), CNBC 1.0

Winter Olympics (daytime), MSNBC 0.9

AFL: Predators-Storm, Sun 0.6

SOC: U.S.-Guatemala, ESPN2 0.3

MBB: Miami-Duke, FSN 0.3

NCAA baseball: Florida-Miami, Sun 0.2

MBB: UCLA-USC, FSN 0.2

Winter Olympics (daytime 1), CNBC 0.1

WBB: Texas Tech-Baylor, FSN 0.1

WBB: Maryland-N.C. State, FSN 0.0

Each local ratings point represents 17,104 households. Source: Nielsen Media Research.

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