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Since You Asked

Nielsen ratings are less relevant Whatever happened to the Nielsen ratings? The paper used to publish them on a regular basis a long time ago. Does it even still exist?

' Tom C., Eagle Point

Sorry, Tom, the Nielsens were canceled because of low ratings. We crack ourselves up here in the Entertainment Wing of Since You Asked World Headquarters.

The real answer is that the rapid changes in the television industry have made the listings both more complicated and less relevant.

The Nielsen Media Research company not only ranks those shows seen on the major networks ' ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC ' but on various free cable and pay cable networks as well. It ranks the news shows and it has rankings among various demographic groups.

— It's a splintered TV world we live in, Tom; so the old, familiar Top 10 list doesn't mean as much as it used to, and there's simply not enough space to run all the significant breakdowns.

If you have Internet access, you can get the list each week at on the Web.

For the record, this past week's top two shows on the network list were the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of FOX's American Idol.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to . We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.