Certainly, NBC's Providence
does more to shed a positive light on its real-life namesake than does, say, ABC's NYPD Blue.
The show has helped area tourism, says WJAR(TV) General Manager Lisa Churchville: "The airlines will tell you that the phones ring right after the show." The post-9/11 drop in air travel boosted tourism in New England, in driving distance of New York.
Summer tourism is very strong in this oceanfront market. Year-round, Providence is a relatively well-off though not wealthy market. The state capital, it has heavy government, health-care and major-university employment.
For running the market runaway leader, Churchville was recently dubbed "the most powerful person in Rhode Island television" by Rhode Island Monthly
magazine. The NBC-owned station dominates in local and network ratings and, naturally, in revenue.
Dominance, of course, presents a challenge to competitors. LIN Television, which owns CBS affiliate WPRI-TV and runs Fox affiliate WNAC-TV, is taking aim at WJAR with co-branded Eyewitness News
on both stations. WPRI-TV will look for a boost with Judge Judy
in late afternoons next year. LIN, in fact, is headquartered in Providence.
Freedom Communications' WLNE(TV) has been trying to take advantage of its strong signal on Cape Cod—which is, in fact, officially part of the No. 8 Boston market—to sell to advertisers there. "We call it our 'Bigger Than Boston' presentation," says General Manager Kingsley Kelley. Station salespeople tell Cape advertisers they can get more for their advertising dollar by spending it in the Providence market.
WLNE is expanding both its Spanish translations for the growing Spanish-speaking population and the airing of its own locally produced courtroom show, Caught in Providence, "starring" Municipal Justice Frank Caprio. "It's our counterpoint to NBC's Providence," says Kelley.