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Chris-Craft newscasts rise amid uncertainty

May 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

While many newscasts were down or flat in household ratings for the May book due to lower HUT levels, there was good news for the Chris-Craft Industries stations in New York and Los Angeles.
The big news in New York was Chris-Craft’s UPN affiliate WWOR-TV was No. 1 for the first time in the 10 p.m. news race with a 4.3 Nielsen Media Research rating and 6 share, narrowly beating out its competitor, perennial leader and soon-to-be sister station Fox-owned WNYW-TV, which had a 4.2/6.
Although Los Angeles Chris-Craft station KCOP-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast came in third with a 2.2/4, the station was the only one in its time slot to show growth, up 36 percent year to year.
This momentum may not last long, with the News Corp. acquisition of those stations just around the corner and speculation that News Corp. would shut down their 10 p.m. newscasts and combine them with the Fox-owned stations’ newscasts instead.
In other New York sweeps news, WABC-TV continues its momentum, becoming No. 1 at 5 p.m. for the first time since May 1999.
WABC scored a 6.2/15, beating out news leader WNBC-TV, which had a 5.9/14. For Monday through Sunday’s 6 p.m. news race, both stations tied with a 5.9/13. For Monday through Friday 6 p.m. news, WABC was No. 1 with a 6.6/14, and WNBC had a 5.9/13. Last May, WNBC was the clear winner of the 6 p.m. news block. But WNBC kept its dominant No. 1 position in the 11 p.m. newscast, with an 8.9/16 for Monday through Friday. WABC had a 7.5/13.
WABC News Director Dan Forman said his station’s Bill Beutel special report from Africa-“Risking Life or Limb in Sierra Leone,” which aired four days during sweeps-helped strengthen the newscast. Mr. Beutel covered the civil war there and told the story of how rebels support themselves by selling diamonds on the black market. Mr. Beutel’s report was so popular, Mr. Forman said, it will be reprised as a half hour special June 5.
“We go where the story is,” he said. “If the story is in Africa, we go to Africa. If it’s in Brooklyn, we go to Brooklyn.”
In Los Angeles, Fox-owned KTTV swept both morning and evening news for the first time in a May book in recent memory.
Beating out KTLA, this was the first May win for KTTV’s morning news since the two-hour 7 a.m. newscast began in 1995. KTTV got a 3.30/12, up 10 percent in ratings from a year ago while last May’s winner KTLA had a 3.06/11, down 18 percent year to year.
“I really don’t think this is about winning a book-this is about a trend over a long period of time,” said KTTV General Manager Dave Boylan. “This really shows a clear shift in Los Angeles local morning programming.”
For the 10 p.m. news war, KTTV eked out a narrow win with a 3.95/6 for Monday through Friday and a 3.99/7 for Monday through Sunday. For 10 p.m. Monday through Friday KTLA earned a 3.93/7 and Monday through Sunday it earned a 3.85/6.
KTTV celebrated the ratings victory with a cake in its newsroom for the late news crew last Thursday. The cake poked fun at KTLA’s recent Los Angeles Times ads (Electronic Media, March 26, Page 1), saying, “Fox 11 10 o’clock News, No. 1 again and again!”
While KNBC-TV, Los Angeles, continued to be the news leader at 11 p.m. and the two-hour 5 a.m. news race, KABC-TV maintained its No. 1 status for the 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news. In March, KABC moved its half-hour midday news to compete against KNBC’s one-hour news at 11 a.m. For the 11 a.m.-to-11:30 a.m. time slot, KABC won with a 2.90/12, while KNBC had a 1.71/7. But from 11:30 a.m. to noon, KNBC was the only newscast on the air, earning a 2.38/10.
KABC General Manager Arnold Kleiner said this is the first time in recent memory that both stations have been this close. But the most significant change for this sweeps book is that HUT levels are down 10 percent between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“When HUT levels drop, they aren’t going to cable-this means [televisions are] off,” Mr. Kleiner said. “People have just left television, and it seems to be a tad higher here than every place else. Viewing is always an issue in warm Southwestern markets because people have things to do besides [watch] television.”
Despite the fact that sweeps are over, last Thursday, KABC anchor Phillip Palmer allowed a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy to test a new taser gun on his stomach, shocking him in front of viewers. On Thursday, KABC also began an e-mail notifier so viewers can sign up to be alerted as to when the next rolling blackouts will hit in the area. In the first three hours of the program, 1,000 viewers signed up.
With the help of “Judge Judy” as a lead-in, KCBS-TV was the only Los Angeles station to post double-digit gains in its evening newscasts. And while all three of the other network-owned stations went down in ratings for the morning news, KCBS was the only one to post a gain. For the 6 a.m. hour, KCBS got a 1.2/6, up 43 percent year to year. This was the first book for KCBS anchor Kent Shocknek, who was previously the morning anchor at KNBC.
In Chicago, WB affiliate WGN-TV won the 9 p.m. news race with a 6.5/9, and Fox-owned WFLD-TV had a 4.3/6. WLS won the late news race with a 14.2/22. WMAQ came in second with an 11.3/18 and CBS-owned WBBM-TV scored a 4.6/7.