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Feb 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The early-morning news race in Los Angeles has taken an interesting turn during February sweeps. NBC owned-and-operated KNBC-TV has led in the important 6 a.m.-to-7 a.m. time period for the past nine years, but slipped to fourth place during the first two weeks of the current ratings period. On the flip side, ABC O&O KABC-TV, which has hovered around the No. 2 or No. 3 slot, has jumped to the top with a 3.44/14 share, up from a 2.96/13 last year. Fox O&O KTTV and Tribune-owned WB affiliate KTLA-TV are neck and neck in second with a 3.26/13 share, up from a 2.88/13 and a 2.79/12, respectively, last year. By contrast, KNBC has dropped to a 3.10/12, down from its top spot of 3.71/16 last year, according to KABC. The 5 a.m.-to-6 a.m. block is even tighter with KNBC and KABC dead-even from 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. at 1.5/12. From 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. KNBC leads by a whisker at 2.1/13, with KTTV just a hair behind at 2.0/13 and KABC checking in with a 2.0/12. Morning news has been a horse race in the Los Angeles market and it’s too early to predict the outcome of such a close competition, said a KNBC spokesperson. The NBC station has made recent talent changes in the morning. Weekend anchor Denise Valdez began co-anchoring from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. on an interim basis at the start of sweeps, replacing David Cruz, who is now a special assignment reporter for evening newscasts and remains the 11 a.m. anchor. In addition, weekend weathercaster John Stehlin is the interim weathercaster, replacing Christopher Nance, who left in January. KNBC has begun its search for permanent replacements for Mr. Cruz and Mr. Nance, though their interim replacements are being considered.
Joe Fever heats up ratings for WAWS
Jacksonville, Fla., Clear Channel Fox affiliate WAWS-TV felt the “true love” last Monday when the “Joe Millionaire” finale delivered a 27.3 household rating and a 34 share, the station’s highest-rated non-sports programming since the market became metered in 1998. It was watched by 160,000 homes in the market and beat out two Michael Jackson specials on ABC and NBC. Apparently Jacksonville has Joe Fever as WAWS beat the national metered market average for the finale by 9 percent.
Changes paying off for WBBM
While Chicago’s CBS O&O WBBM-TV has been aggressively raiding talent from local competitors, the station said it has no interest in Mark Suppelsa, who abruptly left the market’s NBC O&O WMAQ-TV on Feb. 14. He had been with WMAQ for 10 years and had recently anchored the 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. news and served as Warner Saunders’ 10 p.m. backup. Still, WBBM continued to bolster its staff with the addition of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker as entertainment reporter. He started Feb. 17 and reports for the 6 a.m. news and also contributes to the 4:30 p.m. newscasts. Meanwhile, WBBM’s ongoing face lift is paying off. The station has been making wholesale changes since general manager Joe Ahern joined in August, including a redesigned set and new on-air graphics, the hiring of a new station manager and news director, numerous talent changes and additions, and greater community involvement. The 5 a.m.-to-6 a.m. news is up 29 percent in household ratings so far in sweeps compared with last year; the 6 a.m.-to-7 a.m. block is up 38 percent in ratings; and late local news is up 9 percent in ratings.
WCBS storms to ratings win
New York’s CBS O&O WCBS-TV went wall-to-wall with blizzard coverage on Presidents Day from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The station generated a 6.5 rating with a 10 share from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when it was up against WNBC’s similarly extensive storm coverage, which captured a 5.7/9.
Stations join forces for L.A. Marathon
Los Angeles’ KNBC-TV and Telemundo station KVEA-TV, both NBC O&Os, will air their first joint programming venture since becoming sister stations last year when they co-broadcast the Los Angeles Marathon on March 2. This year will mark the first time in the event’s history that it will be broadcast in Spanish. The race was carried on Fox-owned UPN affiliate KCOP-TV for 16 years and Viacom-owned independent station KCAL-TV for one year before KNBC snagged the rights to this year’s event. According to KNBC, the event is the nation’s largest locally produced TV event in terms of personnel and resources, including 22 camera positions and six helicopters.
Dr. Phil visits WMAQ
America’s therapist Dr. Phil returned to his roots last week when he visited Chicago to tape a special town hall meeting specifically for the market’s NBC O&O WMAQ-TV. The popular host’s first special town hall meeting was scheduled to air Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. and again Feb. 26 at 10 a.m on WMAQ. The station’s Allison Rosati co-hosted.