The third season of hit drama 24 has suffered a big ratings drop - and producers are blaming the waning popularity on the programme on before it, for the decline in viewers.

The opening episode of the KIEFER SUTHERLAND-starring show saw two million fewer viewers than tuned in for the first episode of the second season.

TV bosses reckon the substitution of hit show American Idol for the less popular JOE MILLIONAIRE as the programme screened before 24 is the reason for the slump.

Executive producer BRIAN GRAZER says, "I'm worried about our lead-in, that's a concern.

"But the show itself is more of an adrenalin-hitting kind of show than last season, and we've shot nine episodes."

06/11/2003 21:02