L.A. Stories

Stations tap powerful parents to spread content

Perhaps the shift hasn't been quite as dramatic as the earthquake that rattled Los Angeles in July, but KMEX's emergence in the No. 2 DMA is undeniable.

Taking on the giant network broadcast O&Os, the Univision station is running a solid No. 2 in several household news races, including 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Broadcasting in a market that's 44% Hispanic, KMEX is extending its reach with the “Noticias 34 Móvil” mobile application, and a 7 a.m. news on its sister TeleFutura outlet KFTR.

“We cover news completely and thoroughly, but we focus on the needs of the community,” says KMEX VP/General Manager Maelia Macin. “It's culturally relevant news.”

While Los Angeles is the top-ranked DMA in terms of revenue, it's getting hit hard by the forces dragging down the rest of the nation's economy. “Gas prices and foreclosures in this region are quite high,” says KNBC Senior VP of Sales Mike McCarthy, “and that bubbles up into the local economy.”

Station managers say fast food and the film industry still spend healthily on TV, and a litany of ballot propositions will boost station coffers. Proposition 8, regarding same-sex marriage, looks to be particularly contentious. “We're starting to see some spending on a few,” says KTTV/KCOP VP/General Manager Kevin Hale, “and we anticipate more.”

L.A. television brought in $1.75 billion in 2007, per BIA. KNBC led with $300.6 million, Fox-owned KTTV was next with $283 million, KABC came in third at $230 million, and KCBS was next at $205 million. CBS also owns independent KCAL, NBC owns Telemundo outlets KWHY and KVEA, Fox holds MyNetworkTV station KCOP, and Tribune owns CW affiliate KTLA.

A few management changes are in the works for the market. Don Corsini is leaving KCBS/KCAL at the end of the year, elevating station manager Patrick McClenahan to president and general manager as of Jan 1. Corsini is reportedly in the running for the vacant top job at KTLA; VP of Programming and Marketing John Moczulski is KTLA's acting general manager until one is named.

As befits a market that covers 55,000 square miles, stations are expanding their presence through a range of media. News leader KABC introduced an ESPN widget, featuring sports highlights and scores, on its Website in July. KNBC is partnering with radio stations around the fringes of the DMA, has its content on gas station TVs, and is finalizing a deal to air in the student unions of USC and UCLA. KTTV launched the “Real Time Traffic” Web program in March, and a 10 a.m. news in July.

KTLA, which lost key news staffers when Tribune got a Fox affiliation (and ramped-up news) for KSWB San Diego, is adding personnel with an eye on expanding news in afternoons and evenings, and perhaps launching an evening entertainment show focused on L.A.'s abundant celebrity quotient. Moczulski, who came on in June, says he took the job only after Tribune Broadcasting President Ed Wilson assured him that KTLA would get back to its hyper-local roots. “We believe in Los Angeles and we believe in being local,” Moczulski says.

Another recent arrival is slugger Manny Ramirez, whose hitting has elevated the Dodgers into the pennant race—and boosted ratings on KCAL, which airs both the Dodgers and Lakers in high-definition. Says McClenahan: “He's brought a lot of excitement to the market.”

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