The ninth annual Television Critics Association Awards featured three repeat winners and a life achievement award for a performer who's been entertaining America since well before there was television.

That award went to Bob Hope, who recently extended his contract with NBC into its 55th year."It's nice to get another award like this," Hope said. "I have a few."

The awards are voted on by the members of the TCA, who are in the midst of their annual July Press Tour.

The trio of repeat winners included a pair of NBC shows - one a big hit and the other an unfortunate cancellation. "Seinfeld" was named outstanding comedy and "I'll Fly Away" outstanding drama.

"When we won this last year it was the first award the show had ever won," Jerry Seinfeld said. "And besides that, a lot of people in this room have written a lot of nice things about our show, and people do read all the reviews."

He said the good reviews helped boost the cast and crew's spirits when the show was struggling in the ratings.

"I'll Fly Away" producer Ian Sander credited critics with keeping his show alive for a second season.

"It was because of the efforts of you people that the show stayed on the air as long as it did," Sander told the assembled critics. "We'd go to meetings at the network and they would talk about the things that were written about the show. We probably wouldn't have even gone a year if it hadn't been for you people."

The third 1992 winner returning in 1993 was PBS' "Frontline," which won in the category of news and information.

Program of the year honors went to a made-for-cable movie - HBO's "Barbarians at the Gate," a biting comedy about the leveraged buyout of RJR-Nabisco.

Cable also took home the top honor in children's programming, with Linda Ellerbee winning the TCA award for her kids' news series on Nickelodeon.

"You know, almost everybody in our business says, `I don't care what the critics think,' " Ellerbee said. "Well, I do. I always have. A lot of people in our business lie."

NBC also took home the other two awards. The documentary "Mike Tyson: Fallen Champ" was named special of the year, and Bob Costas won in the sports category for his work as host of "NFL Live" and as host of the 1992 Summer Olympics.

"The Olympics is a rare stage for a sports broadcaster. The only thing that I've done that gave me nearly the satisfaction was baseball play-by-play, because it's a liberating thing to do," Costas said. "You can be a dramatist, a historian, a reporter, a conversationalist."