Localism at work


Philadelphia has been an influential U.S. city since the country's founding, and that status is reflected today in its ranking as the fourth-largest television market. A major seaport and important manufacturing center, after World War II, the city's economic base began shifting away from manufacturing to the biotechnology, banking, pharmaceutical, publishing, medical-services and high-tech businesses that comprise it today.

"Philadelphia has never been a high-growth market, but it's held its own," explains Dave Davis, general manager of ABC O&O WPVI-TV. "There have been some old-line corporations [that have closed] and a lot of mergers among the banks that have reduced the number of headquarters in the city, but then you have companies like Comcast that have taken their place." The current economy presents challenges for the TV stations. "Today's market," says Marcellus Alexander, general manager of CBS O&O KYW-TV, "is making us all better at what we do, whether it's finding that unique news niche or aggressive enterprise selling."

Davis adds that "the national business is still showing some signs of softness, but, locally, we just had our most successful Fourth of July. We did about six hours of local live programming, and, this year, the ABC network picked up the last hour of our prime time coverage so we had a very large day." According to Davis, local productions are done to "serve the community; the advertiser support generally takes care of itself if we're doing a good job on the programming side."

Alexander says KYW-TV's "efforts are focused on the nontraditional and new-to-television dollars." An example is the upcoming Philadelphia Magazine-KYW Best of Philly
show covering the party honoring winners of the magazine's annual readers' choice of city favorites. The half-hour program airs July 30. "This was the first year we've done it," he says, and "it was a revenue generator for us."