Broadcasters Join The WB 100+
Usually, the addition of a couple of new members to The WB 100+ station group—an almost entirely cable-based collection of affiliates in small and midsize markets—would seem routine. But the two stations joining The WB's roster signal another step in the network's drive to recruit broadcast stations. Dimension Broadcasting-owned KBCA Alexandria, La., started airing WB fare on June 1; in early July, Rocky Mountain BroadcastingPax affiliate KMTF Helena, Mont., will switch over to The WB. Both are full-power stations, and they raise The WB's total of over-the-air outlets from six to eight.
As new FCC station licenses become available and existing stations make it known that they might be interested in swapping affiliation, The WB group is in the hunt for more broadcast affiliates. Group General Manager/Executive VP Russell Myerson says he is in “active discussions” with five candidates.
In Helena, KMTF needed a new programming partner after its deal with Paxson expired. The WB, says station General Manager Suzanne Rogers, was an attractive partner. “We like their programming and think there will be a very good response.”
The WB 100+ stations currently reach 9.5 million homes. Over-the-air carriage, Myerson says, will help expand that footprint, since about 30% of U.S. households do not subscribe to cable. (The WB 100+ stations are typically not available on satellite.) All the stations carry a single program feed but handle their own local ad sales.
Myerson says The WB 100+ prefers to court only full-power, analog stations. “We're not looking at digital or low-power stations,” he says. “That would not be adding a significant amount of viewership.”
Nielsen's Univision Pact
Despite a bitter dispute last year with Nielsen Media Research over its new local-people-meter (LPM) ratings system, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications last week signed a new deal with the company covering 34 of its Univision and Telefutura stations.
Under the pact, Nielsen will provide LPM data for Univision-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas (slated for LPMs next year) and local ratings for its other stations.
Some Univision stations had been operating without ratings for months. Several were at the end of their Nielsen contracts, and stations in LPM markets had refused to sign on for the new service (see related story on page 16.)
Last year, Univision filed a motion in California to halt Nielsen's Los Angeles rollout of LPMs, which some broadcasters protest undercount minorities, young viewers and large families. Nielsen went ahead as planned last July. Four months later, Univision withdrew its suit.
Nielsen says its new LPM sample includes more Hispanic participants and it is also working to double the number of Hispanic households in its national sample.
The improvements were apparently enough to satisfy Univision. Ceril Shagrin, senior VP of corporate research, says Nielsen is “on the right track and we will continue to work with them aggressively.”
Hookstratten Heads Fox Affiliate Relations
To improve communication with its affiliates, Fox is recruiting NBC Universal veteran Jon Hookstratten to head its affiliate relations.
As executive VP, Hookstratten, who took up his new post June 13, will coordinate distribution and network relations with Fox's 184 affiliates. He will also work with the network's 25 owned-and-operated stations.
He replaces Bob Quicksilver, who has left the company.
Hookstratten says his role will be to “look for ways to help affiliates and move both of our agendas forward.” He previously worked for NBC Universal Television Domestic Distribution and CBS Enterprises.