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Sooner State Just OK - Broadcasting & Cable

Sooner State Just OK

Gambling might help lagging economy
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Local broadcasters in Tulsa, Okla., are eagerly awaiting a revenue wild
card: advertising from the gaming industry. Beginning later this year, new
casinos that have sprouted up and a freshly minted lottery are expected to
advertise heavily on local TV.

“It is so rare to see a brand-new set of dollars,” says Regina Moon,
VP/general manager for CBS affiliate KOTV.

Tulsa could use the infusion. After losing oil-industry jobs in the
1980s, the area temporarily revived its economy with a thriving technology
industry. But that bubble burst in the late '90s, taking 25,000 well-paying
jobs with it. With such uncertainty, real estate prices are stagnant.

TV stations have maintained modest growth. The market generated $78.8
million in gross revenue last year, up from $72.3 million in 2003. KOTV nabbed
the highest with $25 million last year, followed by ABC affiliate KTUL's
$22.8 million.

KOTV is the news leader in all the key time slots. Its parent company,
locally owned Griffin Communications, also owns KWTV Oklahoma City, and the two
stations often pool resources, including collaborating on a
presidential-election forum last fall and KWTV's sending its helicopter over
to Tulsa, about 90 miles away. KOTV and local cable operator Cox partner on a
24/7 cable channel, News Now 53, which repeats KOTV newscasts and simulcasts
breaking news.

KTUL places second in early-evening and late news. Fox affiliate KOKI
airs local news at 5 and 9 p.m.; last season, its late news posted strong
ratings growth, helped in part by American
Idol
. The show's latest winner, Carrie Underwood, hails from the
Tulsa area. In May, KOKI's 9 p.m. news nabbed an average 8 rating/11 share,
double its marks for the year before and good enough to beat the entertainment
programming on NBC affiliate KJRH.

KJRH is making moves to boost its news. The station recently debuted
syndication powerhouses Wheel of Fortune and
Jeopardy!, and General Manager Michael Kronley says the
shows are already having an impact. “Wheel of Fortune
won its time period,” he says. “In the four years I've been here, we've
never won there.” KJRH's early news, he adds, is up one or two ratings
points already.

Stations are encouraged by Tulsa's redevelopment plans. The
centerpiece of the local government's “Vision 2025” plan is a new
18,000-seat arena downtown, which has Kronley guardedly optimistic. “We're
making money,” he says. “But when you look around the country, we're not
a growth market.”

Next: Boston-Manchester, N.H.

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