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Bush loses in network battle of 'Survivor'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush didn't find a friend in NBC and didn't survive CBS scrutiny as the two networks have opted to air their most popular programs Thursday night, instead of the president's prime-time address to the nation.

Fox said it is up to their local stations whether to pre-empt regular programming for the president. ABC is the only major network that will take the speech live at 8 p.m. ET.

"This is an important progress report, and I certainly hope that the American people will use those outlets that they have to see it," said Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser. "There are outlets where he will be heard. I'll leave it at that."

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White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said he had a conference call with television executives Wednesday, which he said is "standard practice" in these types of situations.

"I filled them in on some information about the speech, what the president would say," Fleischer said. "I made no requests and said this is a judgment that you all will make -- have to make as your job as the people who decide whether something should air live or not. It is the judgment of the networks to make."

One senior Bush aide said he has not heard anyone within the administration as being angry at the networks for going with their regular programming.

NBC aired its hit show "Friends," while MSNBC and CNBC carried the president's address. CBS went with "Survivor," the most popular reality show on television. Fox said it was up to individual stations on whether to go with the season premiere of "Family Guy" or Bush's address. Fox News carried the speech live.

The speech was shown live on CNN.

-- CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.


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