CBS Stations Gain Ground - Broadcasting & Cable

CBS Stations Gain Ground

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While NBC's major-market owned and affiliated stations made their usual strong showing in late-news ratings, CBS's owned and affiliated stations came in with stronger November Nielsen ratings, too.

NBC stations were first in late news in top markets New York, Los Angeles and Chicago; took second in Philadelphia to the usual winner, ABC-owned WPVI-TV; and won in many large markets, including Dallas, West Palm Beach and Tampa, Fla., Miami (among English-language stations), Washington and San Diego.

ABC-affiliated stations, which have for years had to deal with low-rated network lead-ins, nonetheless won late local news in some major markets, including San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston and Kansas City, Mo., and recorded second-place finishes in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

But a strong showing by CBS prime time helped CBS stations, including those in the ratings-starved Viacom group, make gains that are unprecedented in some markets in recent years.

Across the 55 metered markets, CBS stations posted an average 6% gain. Among the network's 15 owned CBS stations, the increase was only half that, but, in the top six markets, CBS-owned stations averaged 8% gains in late local news.

In No. 1 market New York, WCBS-TV was up 10% at 11 p.m., although newscasts in other dayparts were down. KYW-TV in No. 4 market Philadelphia increased 15%. Double-digit gains were also recorded at KEYE-TV San Antonio and KUTV(TV) Salt Lake City.

Boston's WBZ-TV, which has not subscribed to Nielsen Media Research since Nielsen switched to Local People Meter measurement, took second in late news to WHDH-TV, local sources said.

Post-Newsweek's CBS affiliate WKMG-TV Orlando, Fla., a longtime trailer in local news, beat NBC affiliate WESH(TV) for the first time in several sweeps periods. Clear Channel's CBS affiliate WKRC-TV Cincinnati also won in DMA No. 32, and Belo's CBS affiliate KENS-TV San Antonio also won in late news.

In Chicago, Viacom's long-troubled WBBM-TV, also under new management, still lost to strong competing newscasts from WMAQ-TV and WLS-TV, and The Simpsons. But it beat Friends
reruns and gained from the previous November for the first time in a decade.

Not all the boosts were that dramatic. In No. 2 market Los Angeles, the much hyped acquisition of Laura Diaz from KABC(TV) to pair with another former KABC anchor, Harold Greene, contributed to only a 3% gain, while other newscasts lost ground.

Still, notes the Viacom station group's top numbers man, CFO Fred Reynolds, percentage gains don't tell the entire story because some of the stations—notably, KDKA-TV Pittsburgh, WJZ-TV Baltimore, WFOR-TV Miami and WBZ-TV Boston—were already doing well.

Reynolds offered guarded enthusiasm at the gains: "There's still a lot of work to do. But we feel good about the first step with November."

He added, "On July 15, the Swanson factor kicked in." Following a two-day retirement as general manager of NBC flagship WNBC New York, Dennis Swanson joined the Viacom group and began an executive talent raid on other station groups—particularly NBC's—likely to be talked about, and felt, for years.

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