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TOP 25 STATION GROUPS

At NATPE '05, expect station managers to be cagier than ever 1/23/2005 07:00:00 PM Eastern

They've all got an angle. Station groups looking for new syndicated programming at the NATPE show, which begins Jan. 25 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, will have to play their best hunches and hope for Lady Luck to shine on them. This year, there are several new shows from smaller syndicators, but only six new first-run strips are being offered by the majors: NBC Universal's as-yet-untitled Martha Stewart show, Warner Bros.' The Tyra Banks Show, Sony's The Robin Quivers Show, and Twentieth's A Current Affair, Judge Alex and The Suze Orman Show.

What that grouping may lack in size, it makes up for in other ways. Have general managers and station groups ever placed their money on a talk-show host like Martha Stewart, who won't be able to attend NATPE because she is in prison? Isn't it just strange that the Warner Bros. promotional reel for Tyra Banks deliberately shows her removing makeup to transform herself into a talk host who is not pretty, all to make her relate more to the average viewer? If Howard Stern were less controversial and not such a pain in the butt to the FCC, would his sidekick Robin Quivers be selling a new show at NATPE? Can A Current Affair be resurrected with the same success the original enjoyed?

It is a trickier NATPE this year, where the smart money has to be very smart. There aren't many lucrative time slots available in the late afternoon or in prime time access, and many syndicators have concluded that there is too much risk in creating new programming to air between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“When you are developing for a daypart that only does a 1.2 [Nielsen rating], it's hard to put together a show that you don't lose money on,” says one syndication executive. “Not that there isn't real estate, but any time you run the numbers, you learn that you will lose anywhere from $3.5 million to $8 million on a daytime show. It's unlikely you are going to double what the daypart typically does. You hope you do, but that's only if your show is a major success.” So rather than risk new failure, some syndicators are hoping existing shows will build.

B&C's annual list keeps tabs of what the top 25 station groups are shopping for at NATPE. (The list ranks stations based on 2003 revenue provided by BIA Financial Network; coverage numbers are according to BIA under FCC regulations.)

But as the conference opens, station groups are still waiting to learn whether shows are staying or going.

This year, NBC Universal's The Jane Pauley Show, Sony's Life & Style and Pat Croce: Moving In, and Warner Bros.' The Larry Elder Show are all questionable renewals.

And that leaves a lot of station groups waiting for a syndicator to make a bold move, wave the surrender flag or announce something completely off the wall.

1 Fox Stations Group

2003 revenue: $2.33 billion
Number of stations: 35
Number of markets: 26
Percent of U.S. covered: 38%
Stations compete in markets 1-162, including duopolies in nine markets. The group operates 25 Fox stations and nine UPN affiliates. KDFI Dallas is an independent station.
Fox is playing its programming plans close to the vest, but it likes to grow its own syndicated hits. For example, Twentieth Television, the syndicator owned by Fox parent News Corp., has three shows in the market this fall: Judge Alex, A Current Affair and Suze Orman.
A Current Affair, a resurrection of the popular tabloid magazine show, is expected to roll out on Fox stations this spring, and Fox is offering it to other interested stations.
Alex is slated for a national launch on the Fox stations and beyond, while Orman awaits a final signal to go.
Twentieth executives are particularly high on JudgeAlex: “This is a straight-up court show,” says Twentieth President Bob Cook. “It's going to be about love and law and order. It has a warm side and a sense of humor.”
As for Orman, Twentieth is betting the marketplace is ripe for a talker focused on finances: “Internally, we found that, when we talked to people about their interests, what kept coming to the forefront was an interest in finances,” says President of Programming Robb Dalton.

2 Viacom TV Stations

2003 revenue: $1.8 billion
Number of stations: 39
Number of markets: 29
Percent of U.S. covered: 39.35%
Stations compete in markets 1-48, with stations in 15 of the top 20. The group includes 20 CBS and 18 UPN stations, along with one independent: KCAL Los Angeles. The group has duopolies in eight markets.
Most of Viacom's CBS stations are chock-full of programs that are renewed far out into the future. And last month, Viacom picked up King World's top-rated Dr. Phil in Los Angeles and Chicago and Paramount's No. 1 gaveler Judge Judy in New York, demonstrating that the stations are willing to spend some coin, especially for shows owned by one of its own corporate entities.
Viacom's one question mark is whether Warner Bros.' The Larry Elder Show, which airs mainly in morning time slots, will return. Most observers believe the show is a goner, but Warner Bros. has not made an official announcement.
Warner Bros. would like to put Tyra Banks in Elder's slot, but industry insiders say that is unlikely.
Viacom is said to be seriously considering a double-run strategy in its eight duopoly markets, taking existing syndicated fare and running it once on the CBS outlet and again on the UPN channel.
If this is true, that leaves one less slot for syndicators to fill on a coveted major-market station. Still, Viacom has many hours to fill on its UPN stations, because the network programs only two hours of prime time Monday through Friday.

3 NBC Universal Stations

(Including Telemundo Group)
2003 revenue: $1.74 billion
Number of stations: 29
Number of markets: 22
Percent of U.S. covered: 33.34%
Stations compete in markets 1-48, with 14 NBC stations. With its ownership of Telemundo, the group operates duopolies in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco. It has the nation's only triopoly, in Los Angeles (the third station is a Spanish-language independent). It also owns a Telemundo station in Puerto Rico.
The NBC station group comes to NATPE with its programming needs all settled.
It will bring domestic doyenne Martha Stewart back to television next fall in her own live talk show on most of the NBC owned stations, and it has renewed Warner Bros.' The Ellen DeGeneres Show for the foreseeable future. Bunim-Murray's daytime reality show Starting Over attracts the young demos the NBC stations like, and the show is expected back for year three.
Of the group's entire syndicated slate, only the fate of Jane Pauley remains uncertain.
“We feel like we are in a pretty good position right now,” says Steve Schwaid, senior vice president of news and programming for the NBC television stations division. “Jane has shown some growth. We have to evaluate where we are with Jane.” Pauley is an expensive show, averaging a 1.5 national Nielsen household rating. It got off to a tough start and was downgraded by stations in more than 20 markets. Still, NBC signed stations to two-year deals for Pauley, and the group is not throwing in the towel yet. “We are committed to carrying the show,” Schwaid says, “and we anticipate the show being back next year.”

4 Tribune Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $1.25 billion
Number of stations: 26
Number of markets: 22
Percent of U.S. covered: 30%
Stations compete in markets 1-55, including top stations WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago, which also is carried as a superstation in 57 million households. Of the group's 26 stations, 19 are affiliates of The WB Television Network. Tribune owns a 22% stake in The WB.
Tribune has at least one hole to fill for fall, with Home Delivery put out of business early by NBC Universal. Sister company Tribune Entertainment was developing a revival of Real People, starring The Other Half's Mario Lopez, for fall, but concluded the economics didn't work.
That means syndicators will likely be following Tribune programming chief Marc Schacher around the NATPE show floor like dogs chasing a bone. Possessing one of very few slots available to launch a syndicated show in the top three markets, Tribune is sitting in a good spot.
Tribune is staying mum but, like Viacom, may opt to fill the time with another run of a program it already owns. In Los Angeles, KTLA programs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with three plays of NBC Universal's The Jerry Springer Show and two plays of NBC U's Maury. With that kind of schedule already in place, Tribune may decide it doesn't want to gamble paying the hefty
license fee of a new first-run show.
Tribune is more excited about the launch of HBO's Sex and the City in late fringe this fall. The show is performing well on TBS, substantially improving its time period. Tribune hopes to reap similar gains itself, with a slightly tamer version.

5 Disney/ABC Stations

2003 revenue: $1.17 billion
Number of stations: 10
Number of markets: 10
Percent of U.S. covered: 23.3%
Stations compete in markets 1-69. The group's top stations are WABC New York, KABC Los Angeles and WLS Chicago. The group owns no duopolies.
The ABC-owned stations possess some of the most coveted time slots in syndication. The group's top stations are among the country's strongest, with local newscasts that can be counted on to deliver market-winning ratings.
That strength is attributed to the stations' steady lineups, including syndicated programming that has been in place for many years. This year is no different, with King World's The Oprah Winfrey Show renewed in early fringe (and at 9 a.m. in Winfrey's hometown Chicago), King World's Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! in access, and Buena Vista's Live With Regis and Kelly in daytime. The rest of the day is taken up with network soaps, The View and local news, although most of the ABC stations have room for one more show.
Enter The Tony Danza Show. With the ABC stations on board, the show is preparing to move into year two, although it still can't find a daytime clearance in Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston. Danza's return means that rival syndicators can only sigh and hope that they get their shot another year.

6 Gannett Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $821 million
Number of stations: 21
Number of markets: 20
Percent of U.S. covered: 17.7%
Stations compete in markets 8-153. Gannett owns 13 NBC, six CBS and three ABC affiliates. The company has one duopoly, in Jacksonville, Fla.
With only Big Three affiliates in its portfolio, Gannett Broadcasting has firmed up its station lineups by renewing its syndicated programs early. Gannett stations carry Warner Bros.' Ellen, Paramount's Judge Judy and Entertainment Tonight, and King World's Dr. Phil.
“We're not in the market this year,” says Roger Ogden, vice president and general manager of Denver's NBC affiliate KUSA. “We've solidified our commitments.” In fact, Ogden talks more about producing local programming than about buying syndicated fare.
“Syndication works because you are spreading the costs over 200 stations,” he says. “But that economic model is difficult if the show doesn't work.”
With the proliferation of cable channels, Ogden reasons that “moving toward more local programming is the natural thing. You look for something that allows you to be unique and has value.”
Still, Gannett willingly paid the high renewal price for Dr. Phil: “In our markets, it made a lot of sense to keep the show,” Ogden says.

7 Hearst-Argyle Television

2003 revenue: $762 million
Number of stations: 25
Number of markets: 23
Percent of U.S. covered: 15.4%
Stations compete in markets 6-121. The group's top market is Boston, where it owns ABC affiliate WCVB and WMUR Manchester, N.H. Its 12 ABC affiliates make it ABC's largest affiliate group, and its 10 NBC affiliates make it NBC's second-largest affiliate group, behind Gannett. Hearst-Argyle also owns two CBS affiliates and one WB affiliate. It has two duopolies: one in Boston and one in Sacramento, Calif.
Like most groups, Hearst-Argyle is set in most dayparts but is reviewing its options in daytime. With most of its stations' Big Three affiliates, the group's syndicated needs aren't enormous.
Vice President of Programming Emerson Coleman expects to pick up Tyra Banks in a few markets andthe Martha Stewartshow in about seven markets. The group is expected to bring Starting Over back after its strong November showing.
Hearst-Argyle also renewed Buena Vista's The Tony Danza Show in several markets. “It's a fun show, upbeat, lively,” says Coleman. “Everyone would like the performance to advance.”

8 Belo Corp.

2003 revenue: $679 million
Number of stations: 19
Number of markets: 15
Percent of U.S. covered: 13%
Stations compete in markets 7-123, with duopolies in Seattle/Tacoma (stations KING and KONG); Tucson, Ariz.; Phoenix; and Spokane, Wash. Belo owns two independent stations, plus affiliates with all six networks: five CBS, four ABC, four NBC, two WB, one Fox and one UPN.
Belo has done a good job keeping its eggs in many baskets, with company resources spread fairly evenly among the broadcast networks.
The group has a reputation for a strong commitment to local news, which it programs in some of its best time periods. Some 40% of the stations' revenue is driven by advertising that runs in local news, 30% by advertising in syndicated shows.
Last year, Belo renewed many of its key shows for years into the future, leaving it with few available time slots. It has renewed Tony Danza in a couple of markets and is awaiting a decision on Jane Pauley in the one market where it carries the show.
“We don't have our backs to the wall in any market, but there's always something at NATPE to see,” explains Belo CFO Dennis Williamson. “I like the environment. This is the only conference that is all about the shows.”

9 Univision

2003 revenue: $644 million
Univision's owned-and-operated stations broadcast Spanish-language programming and do not buy English-language syndicated shows.

10 Cox Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $615 million
Number of stations: 15
Number of markets: 11
Percent of U.S. covered: 10%
Stations compete in markets 9-100, including duopolies in San Francisco, Charlotte, N.C., and Orlando, Fla. The group's flagship station is ABC affiliate WSB Atlanta, where Cox is headquartered. Cox owns two other ABC affiliates, three NBC affiliates, two CBS affiliates, three Fox affiliates, three independents and one WB.
Cox buys syndicated programming on a market-by-market basis, rather than clearing shows group-wide.
“Owning that many stations that are that diverse, you'll find a little bit of everything,” says Bruce Baker, executive vice president of television. “There is no specific show that is being launched this year that our folks feel they've got to have.”
That said, Baker says Cox is looking at all this year's new show offerings.
Otherwise, Cox has upgraded Ellen on two stations—WHIO Dayton, Ohio, and WPXI Pittsburgh—and renewed it out on other stations in multi-year deals. The group also renewed Tony Danza in one market and is waiting on Jane Pauley in several markets.
Cox, like the other non–studio-owned station groups, finds that, in some cases, it never gets a chance to bid. “So many deals are O&O deals that we don't even get a shot at the show,” Baker laments. “The syndicators want group deals, so we have to go up against CBS and other groups that use their leverage.”

11 Sinclair Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $597 million
Number of stations: 62
Number of markets: 39
Percent of U.S. covered: 24%
Stations compete in markets 13-109. Sinclair's television group comprises 20 Fox affiliates, 19 WB affiliates, six UPN affiliates, eight ABC affiliates, four NBC affiliates, three CBS affiliates and two independent stations. Sinclair has 12 duopolies. The group also originated the idea of local marketing agreements and today runs LMAs in 10 markets.
With more stations than any other group in the top 25 and so many of them Fox, WB and UPN affiliates, Sinclair has lots of space for syndicated programming.
“We want to put the best possible programs into the most time periods,” says Bill Butler, vice president, group programming and promotions. “We try to maximize every station's schedule with the best programming we can get.”
That isn't easy in an era of low-rated syndicated programs. “The hardest thing for shows to get now is a pulse,” he says. “Any show that has a pulse needs to be respected.”
Still, Butler will be shopping. “I really didn't expect to be doing much business at NATPE, but with Sony's delay on announcing Robin Quivers and the late offering of Judge Alex and Suze Orman, that certainly makes NATPE a more natural place to do some business,” he says. With many stations that skew
young, Sinclair likes sitcoms. But there aren't many around. “My biggest concern is that it doesn't appear that any of the coming sitcoms are going to be what I call 'station-makers,'” Butler says.

12 Raycom Media

2003 revenue: $425 million
Number of stations: 37
Number of markets: 30
Percent of U.S. covered: 7.7%
A majority of stations compete in markets 15-113, with six duopolies. The group consists of seven CBS, 13 NBC, two ABC, nine Fox, one WB, five UPN and two Univision affiliates, as well as two independents. Raycom's largest markets are WOIO Cleveland, WXIX Cincinnati and WMC Memphis, Tenn.
“I think the biggest challenge for us, as it was last year, is daytime,” says Raycom's Mary Carole McDonnell, executive vice president of programming. “There is less and less product being produced, and the marketplace is competitive for the daytime product that is coming out.
“I look at everything,” she continues. “With so many different stations and affiliates throughout the country, I need to know what's out there.” McDonnell is worried about syndicators: “Everyone has concerns about how long the studios will want to produce product for these dayparts.”
Raycom has renewed Dr. Phil in nine markets. It also has Paramount's The Insider in some markets. “That hasn't been a barn-burner for us yet, but everybody needs to give shows time to build,” McDonnell says. “That's what I think is a challenge right now in our business: Everyone wants instant results. If you are getting at least a 1 or a 2 in daytime, then it's a decent placeholder.”

13 Scripps Howard Co.

2003 revenue: $365 million
Number of stations: 10
Number of markets: 9
Percent of U.S. covered: 14%
The stations compete in markets 10-60, with a duopoly in Kansas City, Mo. The group operates six ABC and three NBC affiliates and has one independent, KMCI Kansas City. Scripps' largest markets are WXYZ Detroit, WFTS Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., and KNXV Phoenix.
Scripps Howard has plenty of timeslots to fill, but the group is waiting to hear the renewal status of several shows before it makes any decisions.
“In a couple of markets, we need to hear the ultimate fate of Jane Pauley before we know if we have time periods to fill,” says Director of Programming and Research Gary Stark. “We do have two-year deals, but based on what's going on with the show in other markets, it seems unlikely it would come back. It's not a total failure, but it's not performing up to where it should be.”
Scripps Howard also has Home Delivery in several markets and is waiting to see what happens with Larry Elder. The group is definitely looking at the new shows—“We've looked at Martha, we've looked at Tyra”—but it is in wait-and-see mode, which might bode well for doing some deals at NATPE.
“With Martha, it's the same syndicator,” Stark says, referring to NBC Universal. “They know full well that if they renew Jane, that locks out that time period.”

14 Post-Newsweek

2003 revenue: $322.8 million
Number of stations: 6
Number of markets: 6
Percent of U.S. covered: 7.3%
The stations compete in markets 10-52. 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 the most part, Post-Newsweek likes the status quo. The group has renewed reliable product, including Oprah, Dr. Phil, Wheel ofFortune, Jeopardy!, Entertainment Tonight and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“We're pretty well set. We have a couple of places in the mornings, but nothing needs to be urgently addressed,” says President Alan Frank. Even so, the group is evaluating new product. Frank thinks talk shows featuring Martha Stewart and Tyra Banks have potential. “We like both of them,” he says.
The possible cancellation of The Jane Pauley Show could force KSAT San Antonio to find a replacement. WPLG downgraded Pauley to a morning slot, but Frank says the show still performed poorly.

15 Meredith Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $321.9 million
Number of stations: 13
Number of markets: 12
Percent of U.S. covered: 7.5%
The stations compete in markets 9-199, with a duopoly in Portland, Ore. Meredith has an agreement to manage the WB affiliate KSMO Kansas City, Mo. The group operates six CBS, one UPN, one NBC, one WB and four Fox affiliates. Meredith's largest markets are WGCL Atlanta, KPHO Phoenix, and both KPTV and KPDX in Portland.
Meredith is targeting daytime for minor revisions at its Fox, WB and UPN stations. The group's traditional affiliates are mostly set, says Lee Petrik, Meredith's group program coordinator.
“The development season is kind of light this year. There's not a lot of new product coming out,” says Petrik. He does like the presentation for the proposed Tyra Banks talk show, although he says first-run product is very hard to develop. “It's a difficult proposition to find a hit and get an audience. She [Tyra Banks] has possibilities.”
Petrik also thinks Martha Stewart's offering looks promising. “I am sure her core audience will stick with her,” he says.
But before closing any new deals, Meredith is renewing existing product like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune and Dr. Phil in various markets.
As for other off-net additions, Sex and the City will air on WFLI Chattanooga, Tenn., this fall. And South Park is slated to join the lineup at WFLI and KPDX, serving Portland.

16 Clear Channel

2003 revenue: $318.7 million
Number of stations: 41
Number of markets: 26
Percent of U.S. covered: 8.6%
A majority of stations compete in markets 33-130, with 13 duopolies. The group operates one Pax, one Telemundo, seven NBC, six ABC, seven CBS, seven Fox, eight UPN and two WB affiliates, along with two independent stations. Clear Channel's largest markets are WKRC Cincinnati, KTVX Salt Lake City and WOAI San Antonio.
Clear Channel is not a company that likes to experiment with the next new syndication sensation. “Clear Channel tends to be a buyer of existing product,” says VP of Programming Dan Stein. “Unless a program is doing dismally, I tend to renew and try to build and promote better and make it stronger. It happens too many times that I replace a 1.5 show and get a 1.2 show.”
However, Clear Channel is willing to take a chance on the proposed Martha Stewart talk show. WKRC picked it up.
Says Stein, “With Martha, a station knows what it's buying. Whereas a Tyra Banks, Robin Quivers and Suze Orman are all new talents in terms of first-run syndication.” Furthermore, he thinks the addition of Mark Burnett (who will produce the Stewart show) is a plus, although they could clash. “Who knows? It could be a battle of the titans within the first week,” he says.
The broadcaster is counting on Martha's core audience to return. Stein thinks the new program, like Martha Stewart Living, will be more of a “sales vehicle than ratings dynamo.” He wants NBC Universal to give stations a three-minute block once a week, which it can use to sell to an advertiser and create a related advertorial product.
Stein says core programming for Fox, WB and UPN markets “is pretty well tied up through 2010.” This fall, some of those stations will air My Wife and Kids and Bernie Mac in six markets. Future 2005 syndication deals include According to Jim in three markets and One on One on three stations. George Lopez was cleared in two markets for fall 2007.

17 Media General

2003 revenue: $305. 9 million
Number of stations: 26
Number of markets: 21
Percent of U.S. covered: 8%
Concentrated in the Southeast, a majority of stations compete in markets 13–176; the group operates one duopoly in Spartanburg, S.C. It also operates one WB, one UPN, five NBC, three ABC and 16 CBS affiliates. Media General's largest markets are WFLA Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; WSPA Greenville, S.C./Asheville, N.C.; and WIAT Birmingham, Ala.
Media General could be a difficult sell this year. The group's syndication needs are modest, and there may be some reluctance to sign off on any new shows.
“We have a few daytime holes,” says Vice President of Programming Steve Gleason. The group might try to fill the space with a new show like Judge Alex or new daytime programs from Tyra Banks and Martha Stewart. “All
three have possibilities.” But Gleason wonders if they can deliver an audience.
He isn't convinced Stewart will fly. “She has experience on television,” he says. “Well, Jane Pauley had experience on television but couldn't execute what needed to be done. It's the same thing with Tyra Banks. [Warner Bros. gave] a very good presentation, but can she execute that on a daily basis?”
Gleason thinks much of Stewart's success depends on what she does when she leaves prison. Will she come out, he says, “all blazing and say, 'OK, I did my time. I was still innocent, but I did my time.' Or is she going to come out very humble and say, 'I screwed up'?”
He thinks people will be more receptive to a humble Stewart. “People will come to watch because it's Martha. But can they sustain it?”
Otherwise, Media General has The Tony Danza Show airing in a few markets. He likes the show but he'd love to see it get higher ratings. As with The Jane Pauley Show, it is a wait-and-see situation.

18 LIN Television

2003 revenue: $283.2 million
Number of stations: 23
Number of markets: 14
Percent of U.S. covered: 5.6%
A majority of stations compete in markets 25-106, with five duopolies. The group has two LMAs: Austin, Texas, and Providence, R.I. There are three ABC, six NBC, five CBS, three UPN, one WB and three Fox affiliates. LIN also runs two independent stations and six low-power stations. Its largest markets are WISH Indianapolis; WTNH New Haven/Hartford, Conn.; and WAPA San Juan, P.R.
Renewing shows like Oprah,Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and Inside Edition has been a priority for LIN Television, but there is still a need for some daytime and early-fringe product—especially if The Jane Pauley Show doesn't return.
Pauley is a “major disappointment,” says VP Paul Karpowicz. “The show was a great concept. It just never delivered on the promise.” LIN downgraded Pauley from early fringe to daytime in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Indianapolis; Austin, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Norfolk, Va.
While Pauley is doing “considerably better” in mornings, Karpowicz says LIN is concerned about paying early-fringe license fees for a show that is “really more appropriate for morning daypart. Clearly, that is a problem.”
Like others in the industry, LIN is waiting to see if NBC Universal will keep Pauley around or cancel it. Even if it stays, LIN is reevaluating its early-fringe offerings in those six markets where it moved the show. “We have to decide if those shows we put in will stay there,” says Karpowicz. Other early-fringe offerings such as TheMontel Williams Show and Judge Judy have been renewed until 2006.
LIN's daytime schedule also needs fine-tuning in at least two markets where The Ellen DeGeneres Show is switching to another channel. The Tony Danza Show, shown in three markets, is a question mark. Karpowicz notes that nothing new “knocks me out of my chair yet.”

19 Gray Television

2003 revenue: $277.2 million
Number of stations: 34
Number of markets: 30
Percent of U.S. covered: 5.1%
A majority of stations compete in markets ranging from 62 to 190. There are 15 CBS, eight ABC, eight NBC and three UPN affiliates. Gray's largest markets are WVLT Knoxville, Tenn.; WKYT Lexington, Ky.; and KAKE Wichita/Hutchinson, Kan.
Renewal negotiations with King World and Buena Vista are keeping Gray Television executives busy. The group is closing renewal deals for Buena Vista'sLive With Regis and Kelly, Who Wants To Be aMillionaire and The Tony Danza Show, according to Barbara Howard, program director at WKYT.
Group negotiations are under way to keep King World product like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Inside Edition.

20 Emmis

2003 revenue: $257.4 million
Number of stations: 16
Number of markets: 14
Percent of U.S. covered: 6.1%
Stations compete in markets ranging from 20 to 149, including two duopolies. The group operates two WB, one ABC, five Fox, five CBS and three NBC affiliates. The largest Emmis markets: WKCF Orlando, Fla.; KOIN Portland, Ore.; and WVUE New Orleans.
Finding a replacement for The Larry Elder Show is the only item on KOIN's syndication shopping list, says VP/General Manager David Lippoff. Certain Emmis operations like WKCF Orlando, Fla., and KHON Honolulu also carry Larry Elder and may need morning product.
It is unclear what program the Portland station will plug in. Other broadcasters in the market have already snapped up new shows from Martha Stewart and Tyra Banks. KOIN did acquire 24 for weekends, according to Lippoff.
At WTHI Terre Haute, Ind., changes will occur this fall with the addition of The Ellen DeGeneres Show at 10 a.m. Family Feud and Home Improvementcurrently air during that time period. “We're very excited about Ellen,” says Rod Garvin, WTHI's director of operations. And Garvin says the pairing of Family Feud with Millionaire in his market is a winning combination—sometimes it even outperforms Oprah.

21 Sunbeam Television

2003 revenue: $229.5 million
Number of stations: 2
Number of markets: 2
Percent of U.S. covered: 3.5%
The stations are Fox affiliate WSVN Miami and NBC affiliate WHDH Boston.
At Sunbeam, there is no urgent need for syndicated product. The group's long-term renewal deals keep its current offerings on the schedule through 2006.
Live With Regis and Kelly continues to be a mainstay at both WSVN and WHDH, says Executive Vice President Bob Leider. WSVN is also keeping Judge Judy through 2006, while Inside Edition remains in access through 2006. The station's locally produced entertainment show, Deco Drive, also airs in access.
Extra and Access Hollywood will air on WHDH in access through 2006. And The Ellen DeGeneres Show is returning to WHDH's morning lineup at 11 a.m.
But despite not having a large shopping list, Leider will be going to NATPE. “When we go to NATPE, we'll check out shows for the 2006-07 season,” he says. He is eager to see what new programs roll out during the convention.
Leider will also attend the Fox affiliates meeting. “I think it's important for broadcasters to have a place where they can network with other people in the industry,” he says. “I am kind of disappointed that NBC is not having a meeting there.”

22 Young Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $225.2 million
Number of stations: 11
Number of markets: 11
Percent of U.S. covered: 5.8%
The stations compete in markets ranging from 5 to 174. The group operates five ABC, one NBC and four CBS affiliates, plus one independent. The group's largest markets include KRON San Francisco, WKRN Nashville, Tenn., and WTEN Albany, N.Y.
Most of Young's NATPE agenda consists of finding daytime product. While the group is in “pretty good shape,” according to President Deb McDermott, there are at least five markets with daytime programming holes.
Already, NBC Universal's Martha Stewart series has been cleared for daytime at WKRN. And McDermott indicates there may be further Stewart clearances by the group. Another daytime possibility for Young is Warner Bros' Tyra Banks talk show. “It looks interesting,” McDermott says.
More daytime schedule changes might occur, depending on whether The Tony Danza Show returns. “It's not doing a stellar job,” says McDermott. “There are time periods here that may be available.”
Young's investment in The Jane Pauley Show is modest—only two stations carry the program. But the show was downgraded in Nashville from early fringe to an 11 a.m. timeslot. Although McDermott says it appears to be performing “fairly well” in mornings, WRIC Richmond, Va., airs the program in late night.

23 Allbritton

2003 estimated revenue: $204 million
Number of stations: 7
Number of markets: 7
Percent of U.S. covered: 4%
The stations compete in markets 8-104.
All are ABC affiliates. Allbritton's largest markets are WJLA Washington, WBMA Birmingham, Ala., and WHTM Harrisburg, Pa.

Allbritton has its eye on Martha Stewart. “She certainly has a perspective on life that very few talk-show hosts have,” says President/COO Fred Ryan. “America's a very forgiving country; I think viewers like to see people land back on their feet.”
The group's long-term commitment is to The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aids their newscasts, but two of its stations are saddled with The Jane Pauley Show. “We're going to have to start looking at our options. The show has fallen far short of expectations,” he says.
Live With Regis and Kelly remains a staple in daytime for the group. And Allbritton is looking at syndicating Inside Washington, a weekly Washington public-affairs program carried on all of its stations.
Expanding local programming has also lessened the group's need for syndicated product. At KTUL Tulsa, Okla., Good DayTulsa, a one-hour local news/talk show, airs at 9 a.m. KATV Little Rock, Ark., already offers two successful morning and afternoon local news/talk shows. Says Ryan, “It's been very advertiser friendly and worked well for us.”

24 Liberty Corp.

2003 revenue: $192.6 million
Number of stations: 15
Number of markets: 14
Percent of U.S. covered: 3.2%
Stations compete in markets ranging from 50 to 179. There are eight NBC, two CBS and five ABC affiliates. Liberty's largest markets are WAVE Louisville, Ky., WTOL Toledo, Ohio, and WIS Columbia, S.C.
Liberty's long-term renewal deals with King World and others make it an unlikely candidate for major new programming acquisitions. “We're not going to NATPE. We don't have a critical need to go,” says VP of Operations Guy Hempel.
Hempel says the group is in “really good shape” with Dr. Phil, Oprah, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. However, some stations are likely to readjust their morning schedules, especially those carrying The Jane PauleyShow. The series airs on KPLC Lake Charles, La., and KGBT Harlingen, Texas. “We're trying to decide what we'll do there,” says Hempel. “Jane Pauley is a wonderful talent. I think it's just the wrong format.
“We'll look at Martha Stewart, Tyra Banks and everything that's new out there,” he continues. He thinks the proposed Stewart talk show may work. “The world seems to think she took her medicine and she didn't shirk it. She may have picked up a few more fans here and there.”
Still, finding an audience for a morning show is tough. Says Hempel, “We continue to scratch our heads. We have some markets that, no matter what you put in there, it does a 3.” Liberty's WSFA and WWAY Wilmington, N.C., offer locally produced home-shopping shows to their morning viewers.

25 Nexstar Broadcasting

2003 revenue: $186.6 million
Number of stations: 46
Number of markets: 27
Percent of U.S. covered: 4.9%
The stations compete in markets 53-196, including duopolies in Springfield, Mo.; Joplin-Pittsburgh, Kan.; Terre Haute, Ind.; Champaign and Rockford, Ill.; Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa.; Utica, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; Billings, Mont.; Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene and San Angelo, Texas; and Peoria-Bloomington, Ind. There are 13 NBC, eight CBS, nine ABC, 12 Fox and three UPN affiliates, along with one independent. Nexstar's largest markets are WBRE Wilkes Barre-Scranton; KRAK Little Rock, Ark.; and WROC Rochester, N.Y. Nexstar technically owns 30 stations and has a shared-services agreement with 15 Mission Broadcasting stations and one Sinclair station.
With minor program holes to fill, Nexstar stations are concentrating on renewals rather than new acquisitions, says Senior VP/Regional Manager Tim Busch.
Nexstar is not likely to make any large group buys. Busch says it is up to the individual general manager at each station to decide which programs are purchased and which are renewed.
Of course, the group may be forced to close more deals if The Jane PauleyShow is canceled. The show airs in nine markets in either morning or early fringe. The group isn't giving up on the veteran TV anchor because, unlike in other markets, Pauley's show is doing well on Nexstar stations. Busch says, “We have confidence in Jane.”
Some of the group's renewal discussions will be with Paramount, whose product includes Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy and Montel. Nextstar's traditional affiliated stations carry a mix of Dr. Phil, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Inside Edition in early fringe and access.
Nextstar is a big buyer of off-net product. Shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Friends, Spin City, King of the Hill, Fear Factor and Frasier dominate their time periods at the group's Fox and UPN stations, as well as the one independent station it owns.

 

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