Station Break - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Break

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WWOR stays put

Secaucus, N.J.-A lengthy turf war between New York and New Jersey over UPN affiliate WWOR is over. Owner News Corp. announced last week its intention to retain the station's Secaucus studios, rather than merge the operation with co-owned WNYW in Manhattan. "This was a business decision that made sense to us," says News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher. Having a functional New Jersey studio gives both WWOR and WNYW a backup venue in case of a terrorist attack on New York. WWOR can also produce potentially profitable local programs in Secaucus.

There has been political pressure as well. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Commerce Committee, spoke out against the planned move to Manhattan. Factions in the two states have fought over Channel 9 for nearly a quarter-century. Once based in New York, the station moved to New Jersey in 1982, becoming that state's first commercial VHF station.

Football Over Fems

Washington - The folks in D.C. love their Redskins. Albritton Communications flagship WJLA demonstrated just how much last week when it bumped ABC's top-rated Desperate Housewives
and two other shows from their Sunday night slots in order to carry the ESPN-produced NFL matchup between the Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens.

In retrospect, it looks like a smart move. The game earned a household rating of 18, about one point higher than Housewives
drew in its debut a week earlier. WJLA wound up carrying the preempted shows in the wee hours Monday morning. A station spokesman said WJLA will likely repeat the trick on Dec. 12, when the Redskins play their next Sunday night contest.

Cryan Time Again

Perennial laggard WLNE plans to drag retired anchor Walter Cryan back to its Providence, R.I., set later this month. Cryan, who is 72, stepped down in 2000 after 35 years at cross-town rival WPRI. He'll be paired with co-anchor April O'Dell at 6 p.m. starting Oct. 25. Cryan's return to the screen will displace current 6 p.m. co-anchors John DeLuca and Wendy Cicchetti, who will move to 11 p.m. The move is the brainchild of WLNE's acting news director Edwin Hart, who's made several changes since arriving last month in an effort to shake up the station—eliminating WLNE's 5 a.m. newscast, reassigning anchors and adding new features. WLNE runs a limited schedule of local news, although it produces content for Rhode Island News Channel, a joint project with Cox Communications. Ratings for its newscasts typically trail those of both WJAR and WPRI.

Florida News Expansion

Palm Beach, Fla. - Hearst's ABC affiliate, WPBF, joins the battle for early evening news viewers. The station has expanded its early show to 90 minutes (5:00 to 6:30 p.m.), and assigned its 11 p.m. female "tri-anchor" team of Lisa Hayward, Kristin Hoke and Tiffany Kenney to the task. "We will give viewers the smart alternative to fluff at 5:30," says news director Joseph Coscia.

WPBF adopted the slogan "Where You Come First" for the May book, and took a page from all-news radio by promising to deliver the local weather forecast first in every newscast. It has a long way to go to catch up to market leader WPTV. The Scripps-owned station scored a 13.2 rating at 6 p.m. in May, nearly doubling second-place WPEC, owned by Freedom Communications. WPBF limped into third place with a 2.8.

WCVB Habla Español

Boston - Hearst-Argyle's ABC affiliate recently launched the first Spanish- subtitled local news programs in the No. 6 TV market, supported with a bilingual on-air promotional campaign and a new Spanish-language Web site. The station has secured a sponsorship commitment from General Motors' Hummer division to underwrite the campaign.

The Boston DMA encompasses about 170,000 Hispanic households—about 7% of the market's total, according to Nielsen. Three television stations deliver Spanish-language programming, but produce little local news content.

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