Success Stories: No Resting on its Laurels

Jul 28, 2003  •  Post A Comment

It’s been another good year for Portland, Maine’s, WCSH-TV, a Gannett Broadcasting-owned NBC station. May sweeps marked its 17th year as the 6 p.m. news leader, according to Nielsen data.
With an 11 rating and 48 share compared to CBS’ second-place WGME-TV, which has a 3 rating and 12 share, one might think execs at WCSH are relaxing with their feet up. But to the contrary, President and general manager Steve Thaxton is always in search of ways to increase his lead.
To that end, the station is reorganizing its staff, including conducting an anchor search and hiring an executive producer from within.
Although the affiliate’s news is captivating to many viewers, come 7 p.m., “We commonly lose 60 percent to 70 percent of the number of viewers who were there for news,” said Mr. Thaxton. Some advertisers go with them.
In an effort to combat the flight, the station is turning to what it does best: news. Beginning mid-September, WCSH will debut an hour-long local newsmagazine program in the 7 p.m. slot.
CBS affiliate WGME-TV is making a promise to its viewers. “Giving Maine Promise” is an initiative that came out of the national “America’s Promise” to strengthen family relationships and bridge community gaps.
“It has created opportunity for revenue, but also measurable results,” said Betsy Bean, public service director for the Sinclair Broadcast Group station, which is involved with the Families for Maine adoption organization and a muscular dystrophy fund-raiser telethon.
“It is great community relations and good PR for the station, while still being revenue-generating,” Ms. Bean said.
WGME’s Mentor Matchup was the subject of a Harvard University study. The program is similar to a telethon, but instead of raising money, it raises volunteers.
TV revenues for the Portland-Auburn, Maine DMA will inch to $44.9 million by year-end from $43.3 million in 2002, according to BIA Financial Network.