It has been a while since anyone not named Sanchez has run a full-power U.S.-based English-language TV station in DMA No. 194, Laredo, Texas. But the club may be even more exclusive than that: KVTV(TV) General Manager Larry Sanchez and KGNS-TV General Manager Mary Nell Sanchez are brother and sister.
"When we get together, we talk no business. It's all family talk," says Larry Sanchez. "It's really been fun," says Mary Nell Sanchez, in competition against her brother as GM for three years. "I know the race will be a clean one."
So far, younger sister's team is winning. KGNS-TV is the market's leading English-speaking local station. KLDO-TV gets the biggest ratings, according to Nielsen numbers, but KGNS-TV outdraws it in revenue nearly two to one, although KLDO-TV was the only other station in the DMA to top $1 million last year, at $1.3 million, according to BIA Financial.
Like some other English-language stations in heavily Hispanic markets, KGNS-TV disputes Nielsen's Hispanic-household count and believes Nielsen discounts bilingual viewers. Minutes from the Mexican border, the market is heavily—94%—Hispanic.
Laredo draws significant regional and national ads, largely from several national retail and restaurant chains operating in the area, including Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and Sears. "Of course, the national rate cards are higher," says Mary Nell Sanchez, "but national picks its time. We do everything we can to accommodate local dollars."
KGNS-TV's news has had its troubles, despite dominating among English-language viewers. In February, its four-person Spanish-language news staff walked out and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, citing lower wages and resources compared with their English-speaking counterparts'. The station had no comment, and the matter remains unresolved. The newscast, which had already lost ratings to KLDO-TV, has been replaced by one in English.