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This Time, They Like What They See

Station execs are high on new syndication offerings 1/20/2006 07:00:00 PM Eastern

As station executives head for NATPE this week, there might be a little extra bounce in their step. Many of them are giving early good reviews to syndicators’ new offerings. That has not always been the case in years past. But at this point, Rachael Ray is the early odds-on leader to be voted the belle of the NATPE ball. And “Desire,” the English-language telenovela project is also creating buzz. What’s more, the three shows launched at NATPE last year—The Tyra Banks Show, Martha and Judge Alex— are all coming back for year two.

The Top 25 station groups have already made most of their major buys. But many have holes to fill, both big and small. Their wish lists and the shows they’ve already purchased are detailed on the pages that follow. (B&C’s annual survey of the Top 25 station groups is based on 2004 revenue provided by BIA Financial Network. The coverage numbers are based on the FCC’s formulation, which discounts for UHF channels.)

Optimism about the market is contagious. Says Media General VP of Programming Steve Gleason, “It is kind of unusual to walk away [from screeners of new shows] and say, 'Wow, I like all of them.’”

1 Fox Television Stations

2004 revenue: $2.436 billion
Number of stations: 35
Number of markets: 26
Percent of U.S. covered: 38%
Stations compete in markets 1-162, including nine of the top 10, led by WNYW New York. It also has duopolies in nine markets. The group operates 25 Fox stations and nine UPN affiliates. KDFI Dallas is an independent station.
Fox News Channel Chairman Roger Ailes, the top station group’s new leader, and CEO Jack Abernethy want to expand news and information programming throughout all dayparts on the Fox stations and earmark entertainment fare for UPN affiliates.
The effort to bolster UPN affiliates will be led by Twentieth’s English-language “Desire” package of telenovelas, which will run in 13-week cycles. Abernethy calls the concept “a groundbreaking opportunity for syndication to offer five nights of stripped one-hour original dramas” (with a one-hour weekend wrap-up show).
He says he is giving serious consideration to scheduling Desire at 10 and 11 p.m. weeknights on Fox’s UPN stations, replacing newscasts in some instances.
Fox is well-stocked with powerhouse off-network sitcoms, holding the rights to Seinfeld, The Simpsons and, beginning in 2008, Everybody Loves Raymond. But Abernethy will also look at Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men (expected for fall 2007) and his own Twentieth Television syndication division’s Family Guy (expected this fall).
The executive has encouraged development of more Twentieth court shows, which have worked well for Fox airing in daytime blocks. The latest is Cristina’s Court.
At press time, Fox was also looking closely at the Keith Ablow talk show from Telepictures and at renewing The Tyra Banks Show for a second season. It had also picked up The Rachael Ray Show, owned by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and Scripps Networks and distributed by King World.
Although Geraldo at Large has struggled to gain a foothold in a number of markets, Abernethy expresses strong support for the show.

2 CBS Television Stations

2004 revenue: $1.99 billion
Number of stations: 39
Number of markets: 25
Percent of U.S. covered: 37.9%
Stations compete in markets 1-68, including 15 of the top 20. The group owns 21 CBS stations, 16 UPN stations and three independents. The largest are WCBS New York, KCBS Los Angeles and WBBM Chicago.
After years of searching for a stand-out syndicated show, most of the CBS owned-and- operated stations now boast a marquee program in King World’s Dr. Phil, locked up in long-term deals. But the group is still hunting for its next hit. CBS picked up Rachael Ray for seven markets, where it will likely run in the morning. (King World is barring stations from running Ray against The Oprah Winfrey Show, although it can run against Dr. Phil.)
Many of CBS’ UPN stations have picked up Judge Maria Lopez to freshen up existing court blocks. And the group is buying the Keith Ablow talk show, billed as Dr. Phil for the younger set, in several markets. “We have 95% of our deals complete, and the heavy lifting is pretty much done,” says President/CEO Tom Kane.
Even with so much business done before NATPE, Kane expects a few surprises. One of the pitches he is most interested in: Warner Bros.’ comedy Two and a Half Men.

3 NBC Universal (including Telemundo)

2004 revenue: $1.983 billion
Number of stations: 30
Number of markets: 24
Percent of U.S. covered: 33.76%
The group owns 14 NBC stations in markets 1-58. With its ownership of Telemundo, it operates duopolies in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco. In Los Angeles, it owns the nation’s only triopoly: KNBC, Telemundo’s KVEA and Spanish-language independent KWHY. NBC U also owns a Telemundo station in Puerto Rico.
Like last year, the NBC Station Group arrives at NATPE with no business to conduct. With NBC U’s Martha renewed for season two, The Megan Mullally Show from NBC U on deck, Access Hollywood and Extra! in place for years to come, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show signed to a multi-year deal, most of the NBC stations have all their syndication needs met.
“We’re in a very good position. We’re very happy, we’re full,” says Steve Schwaid, senior VP of news and programming for the NBC Station Group. “At NATPE, we’re always looking to understand the market and see what’s in the market, but I don’t have to go to NATPE as a buyer.”

4 Tribune Broadcasting

2004 revenue: $1.329 billion
Number of stations: 26
Number of markets: 22
Percent of U.S. covered: 30%
Stations compete in markets 1-55, including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and flagship WGN Chicago, which also is carried as a separate superstation in 57 million households. Of the group’s 26 stations, 19 are The WB affiliates, the remainder comprising Fox and ABC affiliates. Tribune owns a 22% stake in The WB.
Tribune is focused on Two and a Half Men and Family Guy as potential access replacements for Everybody Loves Raymond, which will move to the Fox stations in two years.
The group has also given “some consideration” to eventually airing first-run programming in access, says VP of Programming and Development Marc Schacher.
Having discussed original content ideas for various dayparts with studios, Tribune formed a joint development deal at NATPE last year with Sony Pictures Television. The pact resulted in a new fall talk show with Greg Behrendt, a comedian and relationship-advice author.
According to Schacher, The Greg Behrendt Show will air in the 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daytime block with multiple runs of The Jerry Springer Show and Maury, both from NBC U. In early fringe, Tribune will rely on Buena Vista Television’s According to Jim as a transitional vehicle leading out of The WB’s new two-hour afternoon sitcom-and-drama block.
And for late fringe, he says, Tribune is expecting the eventual arrival of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage in the off-net market. For now, it is well-stocked with Sex and the City and double runs of Raymond, Friends and Will & Grace. Weekends on Tribune will continued to be filled by an assortment of available off-network hours, including The Shield from Sony starting this fall.

5 Disney/ABC Stations

2004 revenue: $1.247 billion
Number of stations: 10
Number of markets: 10
Percent of U.S. covered: 23.3%
Stations compete in markets 1-69, including four of the top five. The top stations in the group include WLS Chicago and WPVI Philadelphia. The smallest outlet is WTVG Toledo, Ohio.
One of the most consistent broadcast groups, the ABC-owned stations enjoy top syndication and powerhouse local newscasts. Most have renewed King World’s Oprah, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! out for several years. Buena Vista’s Live With Regis and Kelly and The View are also locked up.
Even so, next fall, six of the outlets are betting on King World’s newest addition, Rachael Ray. WABC New York; WPVI Philadelphia; KSFN Fresno, Calif; WTVG Toledo, Ohio; WJRT Flint, Mich; and WTVD Raleigh, N.C., have all picked Ray up. But Ray’s gains come at Tony Danza’s expense. To make room for her show, ABC stations are clearing out The Tony Danza Show, produced by Disney-owned Buena Vista, taking it from plum morning slots.

6 Gannett Co.

2004 revenue: $918.8 million
Number of stations: 21
Number of markets: 19
Percent of U.S. covered: 17.75%
Stations compete in markets 8-151. Gannett owns 12 NBC, six CBS and three ABC affiliates. It soon will own 22 stations, the acquisition of UPN affiliate KTVD Denver giving the company its second duopoly. Its other one is NBC and ABC affiliates, respectively, WTLV and WJXX Jacksonville, Fla.
A few Gannett stations are looking for a replacement for NBC U’s Starting Over. Both WXIA Atlanta and WKYC Cleveland double-run the daytime reality show.
Gannett stations continue to gravitate toward increasing local programming, so the group needs less syndicated fare. KUSA Denver has had success with Colorado & Co., a local talk show that gives advertisers a chance to showcase their wares in friendly three-minute segments. The program wins the time period among key female demographics.
WXIA has followed suit with Atlanta & Co., and WKYC has Good Company. KARE Minneapolis offers three local programs: Whatever, a news program aimed at teens; Grow With KARE, a gardening show; and Minnesota Bound, a locally produced news magazine. And KTHV Little Rock, Ark., has THV This Morning, a local advertiser-friendly magazine show.

7 Hearst-Argyle Television

2004 revenue: $834.7 million
Number of stations: 35
Number of markets: 27
Percent of U.S. covered: 15.4%
Stations compete in markets 6-121. The largest station is WCVB Boston. The company operates 13 ABC affiliates and 10 NBC outlets, with duopolies in Boston and Sacrament, Calif.
With 35 stations to program, Hearst-Argyle tries to use its size to its advantage and negotiate group buys for strip programming. Its stations make their own deals for weekend fare. So far, Hearst-Argyle has bought King World’s Rachael Ray for about 10 markets and NBC Universal’s Megan Mullally in eight.
VP of Programming Emerson Coleman is investigating talk shows with Keith Ablow and Greg Behrendt.
This year’s market is more active, he says, because many stations have holes to fill on their schedules from recent cancellations like Jane Pauley and Living It Up With Ali & Jack.
Of the latest crop, Coleman is upbeat about Ray’s and Mullally’s talk shows. Each, he says, should be a strong addition to daytime lineups and will have to compete head to head in some markets. “They both have a following,” he says. “Megan is very personable and watchable, and it will be a lively, upbeat show. Rachael has a smile that lights up the room.”

8 Belo Corp.

2004 revenue: $738.7 million
Number of stations: 21
Number of markets: 18
Percent of U.S. covered: 13.2%
Stations compete in markets 7-123. The largest outlet is WFAA Dallas-Ft. Worth; the smallest, KTVB Boise, Idaho. Belo is affiliated with all six broadcast networks. The group comprises five CBS, four ABC and four NBC stations.
Belo is heading into NATPE mostly to window-shop, because its stations have little time to fill. The company has locked up heavyweights, including Oprah and Dr. Phil, in long-term deals and, in some markets, expanded local news. Both moves reduce their needs for new strips.
But Belo outlets are still hunting for prospects, particularly the non-traditional Fox, The WB and UPN affiliates and independent KTVK Phoenix, the group’s top purchaser of syndicated product. So far, Belo has bought the new Rachael Ray program for stations in Norfolk, Va., and Phoenix, Ariz.
It also purchased Keith Ablow’s show for its outlets in Charlotte, N.C.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle. Also in the works are a few deals for NBC U’s Megan Mullally talk show.
“In recent years, there hasn’t been a lot of originality in the talent or the shows, but this year is better,” says Executive VP of Media Operations Dave Lougee. “Rachael Ray appears to be a refreshing talent.”

9 Univision

2004 revenue: $668.1 million
Number of stations: 62
Number of markets: 26
Percent of the U.S. covered: 22.8%
Univision’s owned-and-operated stations broadcast Spanish-language programming and do not buy English-language syndicated shows.

10 Raycom Media Inc.

2004 revenue: $667 million
Number of stations: 38
Number of markets: 28
Percent of U.S. covered: 10.36%
Stations compete in markets 16-180. Raycom owns 13 NBC, seven CBS, two ABC, nine Fox, six UPN and one WB affiliated station. It runs duopolies in eight markets, the biggest in Cleveland and Honolulu.
The company bought 15 stations from Liberty in August; the FCC gave final approval last week. The group plans to sell 12 stations, including some acquired from Liberty.
Executive VP of Programming Mary Carole McDonnell will have to be careful shopping for the wide variety of stations in Raycom’s portfolio, from large-market traditional affiliates to smaller-market Fox, UPN and WB stations.
McDonnell and her team view all the programming available and then work with the group’s individual station managers to select programming for each station. “We don’t do group deals,” she says.
Once programs are picked, negotiations are handled out of McDonnell’s office in Los Angeles, although Raycom is based in Montgomery, Ala.
Thus far, Raycom has picked up King World’s Rachael Ray, Sony’s Greg Behrendt and Warner Bros.’ Keith Ablow in various markets. The group has added NBC U’s Megan Mullally in only one market, McDonnell says. It has not yet renewed Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks but expects to.

11 Cox Broadcasting

2004 revenue: $649 million
Number of stations: 14
Number of markets: 11
Percent of U.S. covered: 10%
Stations compete in markets 6-152, including duopolies in Charlotte, N.C.; Orlando, Fla., and San Francisco. Cox owns three ABC, three NBC, three Fox and two CBS affiliated stations, as well as three independents. It also runs one LMA in Reno, Nev.: UPN affiliate KAME. Flagship station is WSB Atlanta, where Cox is headquartered.
“We’re a pretty stable television group so we’re not going through a lot of radical program changes,” says Bruce Baker, executive VP of television stations for Cox Television. “Groups like ours don’t wait for NATPE.”
Cox is looking at Sony’s Greg Behrendt, which is being distributed through a co- production deal with Tribune Groups. So only stations located where Tribune doesn’t own a station have a shot at the comedian/author’s new talker.
Cox has bought a few programs for its Big Three affiliates—such as King World’s Rachael Ray for KIRO Seattle at 3 p.m.—but most of its larger-station lineups are locked up.

12 Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.

2004 revenue: $624.7 million
Number of stations: 60
Number of markets: 37
Percent of U.S. covered: 12.479%
Sinclair’s network stations encompass 20 Fox, 18 WB, 11 ABC, six UPN, two CBS and one NBC affiliate, as well as two independents. Its largest market is Tampa, Fla., which ranks 12th; its smallest is Peoria/Bloomington, Ill., at No. 117. The group also originated the idea of local marketing agreements and today runs LMAs in 21 markets, including Nashville, Tenn., where it operates three stations.
The station group is particularly high on Twentieth’s Desire telenovelas, which VP of Group Programming and Promotion Bill Butler calls a “wonderful idea that should have been on Anglo TV before now. The rest of the world knows something.”
Among other new first-run product, Butler says, Sinclair has acquired a “wide swath” of shows for its stations, including Cristina’s Court and, for its traditional affiliates, talk shows Greg Behrendt, Rachael Ray and Keith Ablow.
“It’s interesting this year,” Butler says. “There’s been palpable excitement about all the projects that have shown up.”
He cites the growth of “celebrity judges” in first-run syndication as a “nice extension,” especially helpful for Sinclair’s non-traditional affiliates.
Sinclair is looking toward placing more first-run product in early-fringe time periods on its Fox, WB and UPN affiliates. It has also been aggressively promoting The WB’s shift this month from kids to adult fare in the afternoons. Butler is hopeful the move will provide momentum for the struggling network.

13 LIN Television Corp.

2004 revenues: $478.5 million
Number of stations: 24
Number of markets: 14
Percent of U.S. covered: 7.5%
Stations compete in markets 25-190, with six duopolies, including joint operations in Indianapolis; Hartford, Conn.; Buffalo, N.Y;. and Austin, Texas. Affiliates comprise five CBS, five NBC, three ABC, three Fox, two UPN and one WB; the group also owns three independents (two in Puerto Rico) and two Spanish-language stations: Univision affiliates WIIH Indianapolis and KBVO Austin. CBS affiliate WISH-TV Indianapolis is the group’s flagship.
“Every one of our affiliates needed at least one show this year,” says VP of Television Scott Blumenthal.
LIN has picked up King World’s Rachael Ray in several markets. Like other executives, Blumenthal cites Ray’s personality and the King World/Harpo connection. Rachael Ray is replacing Buena Vista’s Tony Danza in most of its markets.
LIN also has picked up NBC U’s Megan Mullally in a few markets, joining the syndicator’s Martha, in year two of its deals. The group has added Warner Bros.’ Keith Ablow on some stations, joining the syndicator’s Tyra Banks.

14 Post-Newsweek Stations

2004 revenue: $417.6 million
Number of stations: 6
Number of markets: 6
Percent of U.S. covered: 7.4%
The stations compete in markets 11-52. There are two NBC, one CBS and two ABC affiliates. WJXT Jacksonville, Fla., is an independent. Among the group’s largest markets: WDIV Detroit, KPRC Houston and WPLG Miami.
For fall, Post-Newsweek has little shelf space for new product, indicating that many of its existing shows—such as Oprah,Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Entertainment Tonight and Ellen—are working well.
Among this year’s NATPE crop, the group has picked up only Rachael Ray and Greg Behrendt for some of its stations, steering clear of more off-network fare, says President/CEO Alan Frank. It continues to run the CSI franchise series on weekends.
Post-Newsweek is a big believer in localism. “We have significant projects at every one of our stations,” Frank says.
He points to WDIV’s extensive and exclusive coverage of the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit; to its NBC affiliates’ having “a lot tied” to the upcoming Winter Olympics; and to the Orlando, Fla., station’s broadcast of a local talent competition for a few weeks.

15 Scripps Howard Co.

2004 revenue: $405.9 million
Number of stations: 10
Number of markets: 9
Percent of U.S. covered: 8%
Stations compete in markets 10-60. The group operates six ABC affiliates, three NBC stations and one independent. Its top stations are WXYZ Detroit and WPTV West Palm Beach, Fla. The company owns a duopoly in Kansas City, Mo., with NBC affiliate KSHB and independent KMCI.
“We’re fortunate that we don’t have a lot of wide-open time periods,” says Director of Programming and Research Gary Stark.
The stability is a big change from the past few years, when most of the Scripps stations have had to make significant buys. Several outlets have picked up Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, including KSHB Kansas City and KJRH Tulsa, Okla. to strengthen early fringe.
Last year, WXYZ Detroit and WEWS Cleveland called in Martha to replace the failed Jane Pauley Show.
Scripps still has a handful of slots to fill. So far, Stark says, the stations have looked at Mullally and Ablow and will continue surveying at NATPE. “You usually find a show you didn’t know about,” he says.
Rachael Ray, whose host shot to fame on the Scripps-owned Food Network, will run on only two Scripps stations, WMAR Baltimore and WPTV West Palm Beach, Fla.
Says Stark, “Ray’s part of the Scripps family, but we’ll be competing with her in many markets.”

16 Gray Television

2004 revenues: $362 million
Number of stations: 36
Number of markets: 30
Percent of U.S. covered: 5.74%
Stations compete in markets 59-189, with duopolies in Lexington, Ky.; Wichita, Kan.; Waco, Texas; and Lincoln, Neb. Gray owns 17 CBS, 10 NBC (including pending acquisition of WNDU South Bend, Ind.), eight ABC and one Fox affiliated station. Gray’s largest markets are WVLT Knoxville, Tenn.; WYMT Lexington; and KAKE Wichita, Kan.
For fall 2006, some Gray stations will pick up King World’s Rachael Ray and Warner Bros.’ Keith Ablow, and the station is looking at NBC U’s Megan Mullally. It also plans to renew Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks.
Twentieth’s Judge Alex was doing so well on UPN affiliate WKYT Lexington that Howard moved it over to the company’s CBS affiliate in the market, WYMT. Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez will join the lineup come fall at WKTY Lexington.

17 Meredith Broadcasting

2004 revenue: $352.3 million
Number of stations: 14
Number of markets: 14
Percent of U.S. covered: 9%
Stations compete in markets 9-199. The largest outlets are WGCL Atlanta and KPHO Phoenix, Ariz. Meredith owns two duopolies: Kansas City, Mo. (CBS affiliate KCTV and WB outlet KSMO) and Portland, Ore. (Fox outlet KPTV and UPN affiliate KPDX). The group also includes six CBS and four Fox stations.
The WB, UPN and Fox stations need to load up on daytime fare. Several stations, including duopoly KPTV/KPDX Portland, KVVU Las Vegas, WHNS Greenville, S.C., and WSMH Chattanooga, Tenn., are looking at new court offerings, including Cristina’s Court and Judge Maria Lopez.
Of the talk shows, Meredith is evaluating Rachael Ray and Megan Mullally but, so far, has bought only Ray for CBS affiliate KPHO Phoenix.
Group Program Director Lee Petrick likes his options. “There are more shows this year, “ he says, “and there is more diversity in the programming.”

18 Clear Channel Communications

2004 revenues: $347 million
Number of stations: 40
Number of markets: 25
Percent of U.S. covered: 8.57%
Stations compete in markets 6-204, with 12 duopolies including operations in Jacksonville, Fla.; Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis, Tenn.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Wichita, Kan. Clear Channel has seven NBC, six ABC, six Fox (including one Fox/UPN combo), six CBS, eight UPN, two WB and two Telemundo affiliated stations as well as two independents. Clear Channel’s largest markets are WKRC Cincinnati, KTVX Salt Lake City and WOAI San Antonio.
Clear Channel is in the market for many syndicated shows, although VP of Programming Dan Stein is not easily impressed. “I tend not to be that high on new product,” he says, “so I’d rather renew the shows that are working and try to make those that are on the fringe work.”
As a result, Clear Channel has renewed many of syndication’s most popular players out for years to come and also has renewed Warner Bros.’ The Tyra Banks Show and NBC U’s Martha.
Martha is meeting our expectations,” Stein says, “and has certainly delivered on what they said she would deliver.”
The group picked up Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez in several markets but has yet to pick up NBC U’s Megan Mullally or Sony’s Greg Behrendt. Stein expects to renew Twentieth’s Judge Alex and liked Twentieth’s new Cristina’s Court.
“Court is a very successful genre for us on both traditional and non-traditional affiliates,” he says.
In fact, this year, Stein is discovering an embarrassment of riches from syndicators.
“Last year, there were only three or four new shows to choose from; this year, there’s a flood,” he says. “There’s enough variety of content that you can pick and choose a little bit.”

19 Media General Broadcast Group

2004 revenues: $336 million
Number of stations: 26
Number of markets: 22
Percent of U.S. covered: 7.1%
Stations compete in markets 13-176, with duopolies in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.- Asheville, N.C., and Wichita-Hutchinson, Kan. Media General has 16 CBS, five NBC, three ABC, one WB and one UPN affiliated station. Media General’s largest markets are WFLA Tampa, Fla.; WSPA Greenville-Spartanburg; and WIAT Birmingham, Ala.
VP of Programming Steve Gleason is another exec who likes NATPE’s offerings this year.
Still, he’s biding his time before committing. The group has picked up King World’s Rachael Ray in one market so far: Tampa, the group’s largest. It’s renewing Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks and adding the syndicator’s Keith Ablow in a couple of markets.
But Media General has yet to acquire NBC U’s Megan Mullally or Sony’s Greg Behrendt. “I’m still looking to see what else might be out there,” Gleason says. For example, Tribune recently announced that it will be offering repeats of Fox’s American Idol for weekend syndication, and Gleason wants to learn more at NATPE.

20 Young Broadcasting

2004 revenues: $245 million
Number of stations: 11
Number of markets: 11
Percent of U.S. covered: 5.8%
Stations compete in markets 6-177, with five ABC, one NBC and four CBS affiliated stations. Its largest station is independent KRON San Francisco. Young’s other largest markets are WKRN Nashville, Tenn., and WTEN Albany, N.Y.
With only Big Three affiliates and one of the largest independent stations in the nation, Young has a lot to offer syndicators in terms of thriving time periods.
The group is “very high” on King World’s Rachael Ray, says President Deb McDermott, who bought it for several markets.
Young also picked up NBC U’s Megan Mullally for WTEN but didn’t get a shot at it in markets like San Francisco, where there is an NBC owned-and-operated station. And McDermott notes that NBC U’s Martha “is performing quite well for us.”

21 Sunbeam Television Corp.

2004 revenue: $233.9 million
Number of stations: 2
Number of markets: 2
Percent of U.S. covered: 3.53%
Sunbeam owns top-market stations Fox affiliate WSVN Miami (market No. 17) and NBC affiliate WHDH Boston (5).
Most of the stations’ syndicated programs are renewed far into the future, and both offer many hours of news each day. In fact, WSVN is letting go of Paramount’s Judge Judy this fall to add more news in access, bringing the station to 9½ hours of news each day. WSVN also produces a local access show, Deco Drive, a program that focuses on South Beach’s hot night life.
But the station will make a big change come fall: It will replace Warner Bros.’ Ellen with NBC U’s Megan Mullally.
“The reality was that Ellen came back with a high license fee that we didn’t feel merited the time period we had for the show,” says Executive VP Bob Leider. “If we had a better time period and the show was doing a little bit better, I would have felt better about renewing it.”

22 Allbritton Communications Co.

2004 revenue: $219.5 million
Number of stations: 7
Number of markets: 7
Percent of U.S. covered: 4%
Stations compete in markets 8-101. All are ABC affiliates. Allbritton’s largest markets are WJLA Washington; WBMA Birmingham, Ala.; and WHTM Harrisburg, Pa.
With most of its time periods locked up, Allbritton won’t even travel to NATPE this year.
Last fall, the group replaced NBC U’s Jane Pauley with Martha and thus far is happy with the how-to show’s performance. The group also may pick up King World’s Rachael Ray in a couple of markets, says Senior VP Jerry Fritz, but “we just don’t have many time periods open.”

23 Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc.

2004 revenue: $200.6 million
Number of stations: 30
Number of markets: 26
Percent of U.S. covered: 4.8%
Stations compete in markets 8-201, with four duopolies, the largest in Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Ill. Nexstar has nine NBC, five ABC, six CBS, six Fox and three UPN affiliates and one independent. Its largest markets are WHAG Hagerstown, Md., which covers part of the Washington market; WBRE Wilkes-Barre–Scranton, Pa.; KRAK Little Rock, Ark.; and WROC Rochester, N.Y.
With all sorts of stations in all sorts of markets, one would think that Nexstar would have a fair number of programming needs. But that’s not so, says Tim Busch, senior VP/Northeast regional manager. Nexstar is renewing NBC U’s Martha and Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks on many stations, leaving the group without many holes.
Still, Nexstar likes King World’s Rachael Ray and has picked it up in several markets. It thinks NBC U’s Megan Mullally will be a fun variety/entertainment show, if produced correctly.
“I think Megan is a significant talent,” says Brian Jones, senior VP/Southeast regional manager. “It has a Carol Burnett feel to me,” he says, adding that pilots are sometimes deceiving.

24 Journal Broadcast Group

2004 revenue: $166.95 million
Number of stations: 10
Number of markets: 9
Percent of U.S. covered: 3%
Stations compete in markets 33-153. Journal has four ABC, three NBC, two Fox and one CBS affiliate. Its largest market is WMTJ Milwaukee.
Jim Thomas, VP of marketing, programming and media relations, says the group has picked up NBC U’s Megan Mullally and Warner Bros.’ Keith Ablow but has been outbid for King World’s Rachael Ray.
The group plans to renew Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks. It’s considering Sony’s Greg Behrendt, although at press time it had yet to see the show and had not made any deals for it.
Thomas says Twentieth’s telenovela package might work for some of Journal’s stations “in very specific circumstances,” although its Fox affiliates air off-net sitcoms in late night where Journal would be most likely to place them.

25 New York Times Broadcast Group

2004 revenue: $166.4 million
Number of stations: 9
Number of markets: 8
Percent of U.S. covered: 3.17%
Stations compete in markets 42-104, with one duopoly in Oklahoma City. The group has four CBS, two NBC, two ABC and one UPN affiliate. Its largest market is WTKR Norfolk, Va.
Going into NATPE, the New York Times Broadcast Group has picked up King World’s Rachael Ray on four stations: KFOR Oklahoma City; WHO Des Moines, Iowa; WNHT Huntsville, Ala.; and KSFM Ft. Smith, Ark. It has also renewed King World’s Dr. Phil in two markets: WQAD Davenport-Moline, Ill., and KFSM, according to a company spokesman.
Additional reporting by Paige Albiniak

 

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