Station Break


Big Apple Sweet on Ellen

Syndicated hit The Ellen DeGeneres Show
has been good for many stations, but it has been really
good for the 10-11 a.m. time period on WNBC New York.

In fact, you have to go back 55 major sweeps periods, or almost 15 years, to see a rating in that time slot as good as what Ellen
delivered last month. In February, the show averaged a 4.3 rating/13 share, tops in the time period. Last time the station beat such numbers was November 1989, when Scrabble
and Concentration
averaged a 4.5/20.

Crime Pays

Providence, R.I.—WJAR reporter Jim Taricani scored a major coup while covering a local political scandal: a videotape of money changing hands between an FBI informant and a top mayoral aide. But now Taricani is paying the price—literally.

A federal judge ordered Taricani to start paying $1,000 per day for each day that he did not reveal the source of the tape, which was shot by investigators as part of a corruption probe. The leak violates a court-issued gag order. The fines are on hold pending appeal.

As of last week, he was standing his ground, with the support of the station. "We are disappointed with the judge's decision," says a statement from the station. Taricani could have received jail time, but his health was taken into consideration; he had a heart transplant in 1996.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Chicago—Tribune Broadcasting Regional Station Managers John Reardon and John Vitanovec have been named group VP, and each will have day-to-day oversight for half of the Tribune TV group, reporting to Tribune Broadcasting President Pat Mullen. Reardon most recently served as regional VP/GM of KTLA Los Angeles, and Vitanovec was regional VP/GM of WGN Chicago.

Reardon will oversee Tribune stations in Los Angeles; Dallas; Houston; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale; Denver; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis; Portland, Ore.; and San Diego, as well as the company's two-station clusters in Seattle and New Orleans. In addition, he will oversee the sales function for all Tribune television stations.

Vitanovec will be responsible for Tribune stations in Chicago; Philadelphia; Boston; Washington; Atlanta; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Albany, N.Y., plus the company's two-station clusters in Indianapolis and Hartford, Conn. He also will oversee management of Superstation WGN, as well as creative-services operations for the full station group.

Election Windfall

Orlando, Fla.—Political ads are inundating the airwaves—particularly in battleground states like Florida and Ohio—and much earlier in the campaign season than many expected. "It's just pouring in," says Bill Bauman, VP/GM WESH. In Cleveland, Brooke Spectorsky, president/GM of WKYC-TV, has a similar reports: "It's very strong, very early."

Bauman predicts his political dollars will surpass the 2000 race, aided by a hotly contested Senate battle. Spectorsky says it's too early to tell.

Get High

Paterson, N.J.—Lots of broadcasters fight with cable operators for a lower channel position on their systems. But how often do they fight for a higher one? WXTV did—and won. The FCC told cable carrier Patriot Media to put Univision's WXTV on Ch. 41, its over-the-air channel, not Ch. 21, where it has been slotted for the past few years.

FCC rules state that, as long as a station does not elect to negotiate a fee or other compensation for its carriage (retransmission consent), it can ask for the same channel position as its on-air position.

If you have a local news item, contact Steve McClellan at (646) 746-7023 or e-mail him at