Local TV

Market Eye: King of Carolina

New faces, hot races in Raleigh-Durham 12/19/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

What’s working in Raleigh-Durham

It is exceedingly rare for a cable news outlet to produce news for a broadcast counterpart, but that’s what News 14 Carolina will be doing beginning next month for Sinclair Broadcast Group’s WXLV Greensboro, an ABC affiliate. (Greensboro is some 80 miles from Raleigh.)

News 14, a network of four Time Warner Cable news channels in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro and along the Carolina coast, debuts “News 14 Carolina on ABC 45” Jan. 2, with newscasts at 6:30 a.m. and 6 and 11 p.m. News 14 has brought in a pair of broadcast vets in Cheryn Stone, formerly of WACH Columbia (S.C.), and Marti Skold, late of KTVX Salt Lake City, to anchor.

Alan Mason, vice president and general manager of News 14 Carolina, says the news crew is excited to play on a larger stage. “It gives the entire DMA a chance to sample our product,” he says. “They’re proud of what they do.” —MM

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What do San Diego, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Charlotte have
in common? All have been overtaken in recent years by Raleigh-
Durham in the Nielsen DMA rankings.

The Raleigh-Durham market, which
includes Fayetteville, leapfrogged Charlotte
for No. 24 on the 2011-12 lineup,
bringing the region its North Carolina
TV bragging rights. “Now we’re the largest
DMA in the state,” says John Idler,
WTVD president and general manager.

Things are humming in central North
Carolina, home of the so-called Research
Triangle that encompasses Duke University,
the University of North Carolina and N.C.
State. As befits a brainy market, the TV stations
are technologically savvy and sharp
with their news product—none more so
than WRAL, which enjoys local ownership
in Capitol Broadcasting. The station
won all the major races in the November
sweeps, including late news with a 9 household
rating/16 share, topping WTVD’s 7.7/14.

WRAL thrives on CBS primetime, a robust mobile
strategy (the station’s content has been simulcast
on city buses since 2009) and a strong weather
crew headed by Greg Fishel, who has been at the
station since 1981. “Weather is always a big deal
here,” says Steve Hammel, WRAL vice president
and general manager. “Greg is exceedingly well
known. If significant weather happens, people
know to tune in to our weather team.”

WTVD, owned by ABC, is a sanguine competitor
and runner-up in all the key races. WTVD also
sees itself as a weather leader, and recently added
Don Schwenneker to chief meteorologist Chris
Hohmann’s team. Idler uses words such as “importance”
and “immediacy” to describe the station’s
content, and points out that WTVD was the only
station to grow morning ratings in November.

WRAL won the 2010 revenue race, according
to BIA/Kelsey, its estimated $43.3 million ahead
of WTVD’s $39.4 million. Capitol also owns Fox
affiliate WRAZ, which won a prestigious Service
to America award this year. Media General has
NBC affiliate WNCN. Sinclair owns CW outlet
WLFL and MyNetworkTV-aligned WRDC. Univision
has WUVC and TeleFutura outlet WTNC;
WUVC debuted 6 and 11 p.m. news this year.

Time Warner Cable is the major subscription
TV operator. Its News 14 Carolina has around
80 people in its Raleigh operation, which turns
10 in March. News 14 is gearing up to produce
newscasts for Sinclair in the nearby Greensboro
DMA. “If [viewers] like it and want
to see it on 24 hours, they can come to Time
Warner Cable,” says Alan Mason, vice president
and general manager of News 14 Carolina.

Raleigh is the state capital; besides the government,
major employers include IBM,
Lenovo and the military. Next year looks
to be a political windfall for local stations.
“You can’t really talk about 2012 in this state
without talking about political,” says Idler.

Stations are doing their best to get ahead.
WNCN, which has the market’s only 7 p.m.
newscast, will launch Jeff Probst’s new syndicated
talk show next fall. The station also plans
to launch mobile DTV in January. “I like the
fact that we’re skating to where the puck’s going
to be,” says Brad Moses, VP/GM.

WRAL produces news for WRAZ, which
will expand its 10 p.m. newscast, WRAL
News on Fox 50
, to an hour on Jan. 3. The
stations will be physically side-by-side when
WRAZ moves out of Durham to Raleigh
around the middle of 2012. “We’ll maintain
a bureau in Durham,” says Tommy Schenck,
WRAZ vice president and general manager.

WRAZ is among the top Fox affiliates in primetime
ratings; “Fox50” is an American Idol power.

Local TV executives say optimism abounds
in Raleigh-Durham. “In a lot of markets, people
are down in the dumps,” says Moses of WNCN.
“Here, everyone talks about how tomorrow is
going to be better. I think that plays well for
the market.”

E-mail comments to
mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him
on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

What’s working in Raleigh-Durham

It is exceedingly rare for a cable news outlet to produce news for a broadcast counterpart, but that’s what News 14 Carolina will be doing beginning next month for Sinclair Broadcast Group’s WXLV Greensboro, an ABC affiliate. (Greensboro is some 80 miles from Raleigh.)

News 14, a network of four Time Warner Cable news channels in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro and along the Carolina coast, debuts “News 14 Carolina on ABC 45” Jan. 2, with newscasts at 6:30 a.m. and 6 and 11 p.m. News 14 has brought in a pair of broadcast vets in Cheryn Stone, formerly of WACH Columbia (S.C.), and Marti Skold, late of KTVX Salt Lake City, to anchor.

Alan Mason, vice president and general manager of News 14 Carolina, says the news crew is excited to play on a larger stage. “It gives the entire DMA a chance to sample our product,” he says. “They’re proud of what they do.” —MM

 

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