When Bay Area television suffered a different sort of ground-shaking in 2000 with the revelation that powerful KRON-TV would lose its NBC affiliation, local broadcasters predicted that ratings leadership would be changing hands. But, with an established ABC-owned station in the market and a new and rapidly building Olympics-aided NBC O&O at KNTV(TV), no one predicted that ratings-challenged KPIX-TV would win in the important and competitive late-news slot any time soon.
KPIX-TV prevailed in the February sweeps, providing the station with its first late-night–news win in a decade and the first for a CBS O&O top-five-market O&O in memory.
"This market's up for grabs," said General Manager Ron Longinotti, who arrived at the CBS-owned station last summer from Belo's KGW-TV Portland, Ore. "KRON-TV had very clear leadership at 11, and they still put out a very credible product. KNTV has won since the switch, and so has KGO." He credits an improved local product and the promotional platform provided by the network's prime time.
The CBS group had some other February bright spots as well, winning late news at WFOR-TV Miami, WJZ-TV Baltimore and KDKA-TV Pittsburgh.
Viacom station group Executive Vice President Dennis Swanson, plucked from WNBC(TV) New York months ago, has been pushing hard to fix the CBS-owned stations' newscast. The February-sweeps results might be a sign that he has begun to make a difference. KPIX-TV's Longinotti, though, was in the running for the job before Swanson joined Viacom and, in fact, was interviewed by him on his first day there.
In the country's No. 1 market, it was WNBC's story in the February sweeps. The station won not only at 11 p.m. but also at 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. ABC group flagship WABC-TV was No. 1 at 6 p.m., 6 a.m. and noon.
In No. 2 DMA Los Angeles, NBC's KNBC(TV) was tops at 11 p.m., typically, although KABC-TV showed significant gains from last year. Fox-owned KTTV(TV)'s Good Day L.A.
bested network competition for the first time in the 7-9 a.m. slot.
In No. 3 market Chicago, ABC-owned WLS-TV—beaten for the first time in years in late news by NBC's WMAQ-TV last November—regained the top spot for that all-important newscast. In another major market where a popular local product triumphs over often weak lead-ins, it was once again ABC-owned WPVI-TV Philadelphia winning at 11 p.m. over NBC-owned WCAU-TV.
DMA No. 6 Boston provided Nielsen numbers via Local People Meters for the first time in local sweeps, as Hearst-Argyle's WCVB-TV broke ranks with other local stations boycotting Nielsen. It won in all pre-prime dayparts, but Sunbeam's WHDH-TV was first at 11, followed by CBS's WBZ-TV.
NBC-owned KXAS-TV Dallas took the late-news race over Belo's ABC-affiliated flagship and historic market leader WFAA-TV, while WFAA-TV won at 9 a.m., noon, and 5 and 6 p.m.
In DMA No. 8 Washington, NBC's WRC-TV continued its winning ways despite gains in several time slots by Gannett's WUSA(TV).
Give the award for creative, if not shameless, promotion to WXIN(TV) Indianapolis, DMA No. 25, which sent singing telegrams to the offices—at least one, a suburban home office—of local and national media reporters to literally sing of the station's ratings victory in late news.
At a BROADCASTING & CABLE office in the Washington area, an impersonator of Fox's "Shaw the butler" from Joe Millionaire
and apparent American Idol
reject "Melodious Jackson" warbled an unrecognizable version of "Like a Virgin" with new lyrics extolling Fox 59. That kind of approach has been known to attract attention.