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Seeking Lost Luster - Broadcasting & Cable

Seeking Lost Luster

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Portland, Ore., has a lot going for it. It has consistently ranked by various publications over the years as one of the best places to live in the U.S. Even so, this Northwestern jewel has had to contend recently with high unemployment, worsened by its dependence on the technology industry.

Portland suffered mightily in 2001, when more than $50 million in TV ad revenue—28% of the total—fled the market in a single year, according to BIA Financial Network. With estimated 2003 revenue of $170 million, Portland's TV stations stand about where they did in 1997. Portland is one of only four top-50 markets in which local radio stations collectively outbill the TV stations, BIA reports.

"It's still pretty slow, and the tech situation is just one aspect. It's a general perception that the economy here is still sluggish," said Teresa Burgess, general manager of Meredith's duopoly, Fox affiliate KPTV(TV) and UPN affil KPDX(TV).

Meredith flipped the stations' affiliations in 2002, putting Fox programming on KPTV's stronger VHF signal. The station's Good Day Oregon
morning news program won its time period in the November sweeps, beating KGW(TV)'s telecast of Today
and KATU(TV)'s Good Morning America.

This is a highly competitive market. Emmis's KOIN(TV) and Belo's KGW finished in a virtual dead heat for total-day leadership in November, with Fisher's KATU a close third. KGW, long a dominant player in local-news ratings, is still tops in both early- and late-evening news.

Tribune entered the market last year with its $75 million purchase of KWBP(TV), which carries The WB programming. KGW handles sales for Paxson-owned KPXG(TV).

Two stations carry Spanish-language programming. Both KPOU(TV) (ch. 16) and cable-only KKEI(TV) are affiliated with Univision. People of Hispanic origin make up about 9% of the market's population.

Comcast is Portland's major cable operator, with about 540,000 subscribers. Comcast Advertising Sales inserts local commercials on 40 channels. Cable penetration is relatively low, about 60%.

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