Studies show TV viewers 'tuning out'

New television research indicates that while the same or greater numbers of Americans may be turning on the TV, more are ''tuning out.'' An independent survey just released reveals that many of the most-watched TV shows do not involve viewers enough to keep them watching after commercials. In fact, viewers regularly switch to other channels when Frank Perdue or Mr. Clean appear.

In a report released April 25 by Television Audience Assessment Inc. (TAA), audience satisfaction and involvement in programs were measured on a scale of 0- 100. The data is based on surveys of 3,000 viewers taken in April and May of 1982.

The shows found ''most appealing'' were:

''A Woman Called Golda'' (syndicated), with a score of 91.

''Hill Street Blues'' (NBC), 86.

''Cousteau Odyssey'' (Cable Network News), 85.

''Little House On The Prairie'' (NBC), 83.

''60 Minutes'' (CBS), 82.

''Nova'' (PBS), 81.

''The MacNeil/Lehrer Report'' (PBS), 81.

''MASH''(CBS), 81.

''Strike Force'' (ABC); ''Fame'' (NBC); and ''Dynasty'' (NBC), 80.

The top shows for impact or audience involvement were:

''A Woman Called Golda,'' 86.

''Cousteau Odyssey,'' 76.

''Quincy'' (NBC), 68.

''60 Minutes;'' ''Nova;'' and ''Strike Force,'' 67.

''Hill Street Blues,'' 65.

''Little House On The Prairie'' (NBC), 63.

''Lou Grant'' (CBS) and ''Ripley's Believe It Or Not'' (ABC), 62.

The higher the appeal and impact, according to the TAA, the greater the intellectual and emotional stimulation. Those programs with the highest ratings would, according to TAA experts, be most likely to keep viewers tuned in through the commercials.

TAA does not point out, however, that intellectually stimulated viewers may spend commercial time talking about the program being watched, thus paying less attention to the commercials.

At the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, the results of a recent NAB survey were announced. It revealed that in the past six years since the previous survey, audiences have become less enthusiastic about TV. According to the NAB/McHugh-Hoffman survey:

* 38 percent of the 1,500 questioned said that they watch more television now; 48 percent reported less viewing.

* More detailed figures, however, reveal that while the percentage of those watching more TV is down, the actual number of those watching was up since the total number of homes with televisions has grown.

* Consumers are more interested in improvements such as better TV reception than they are in added features such as video games, electronic newspapers, and two-way services.

* TV viewing is considered by many to be a negative influence.

The accuracy of the McHugh-Hoffman report has been criticized since it was apparently an attitudinal rather than a behavioral study - that is, people were questioned as to their habits rather than observed.

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