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Flat but Looking Up - Broadcasting & Cable

Flat but Looking Up

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Cotton is still king in Lubbock, Texas: The area is one of the largest producers of cotton in the United States. That has an impact on area TV stations, noted NBC affiliate KCBD(TV) General Manager Dan Jackson: "We rely heavily on farmers' being successful."

Texas Tech University, with 27,000 students, and Covenant Health Center employ large numbers in the community and, despite small recent cutbacks, have provided something of a cushion as the national economy has struggled. But because Lubbock, with 202,000 residents, is the biggest city around in this part of West Texas, it is called the Hub of the Plains and is a major distribution center.

"The market's really exploding in terms of the local economy," said Brad Moran, general manager of KJTV-TV, the Fox affiliate, and president of Ramar Communications. "We have little dips," he added, but mostly "we're just a steady-Eddie market."

Texas Tech has accounted for more than $1 billion worth of construction projects in recent years. A new basketball arena heralded the arrival of head coach Bobby Knight, and construction of a football stadium is being completed.

"Lubbock is usually pretty insulated," said Greg McAlister, general manager of KLBK-TV, the CBS affiliate. While he generally agrees that the market is usually steady, his numbers are less exciting than he would hope for, but, he added, local spending is "definitely on an 'up' at this time."

Like a lot of smaller markets, Lubbock television has several shared-service agreements that make operating more efficient. Ramar, for instance, also owns and operates Telemundo affiliate KXTQ-LP and has a joint sales agreement with KUPT-LP, the UPN affiliate. KLBK-TV has a joint sales agreement and a shared-services agreement with ABC affiliate KAMC (TV), begun in 1999 after McAlister Television Enterprises sold it.

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