Station to Station

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Viacom Mulls L.A. 'Anchor Duopoly’

Dr. Phil, having aired since its
inception on KNBC Los Angeles, moves to KCBS this fall and stands a good chance
of bumping the station’s 4 p.m. newscast to sister duopoly station KCAL.
Market sources say the odds are 50-50 that KCBS newscast anchors Harold Greene
and Ann Martin would move along with it.

If that should happen, Greene and Martin would become the first major
anchor talents in a top-10 market to switch from a primary O&O outlet to a
weaker station under the same ownership. The veteran anchors, both closely
identified with KCBS after years of promotion, also anchor KCBS’ 6 p.m.
newscast.

KCBS would make the move in hope that Dr.
Phil
, which has generated strong ratings in Los Angeles, would boost
its 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, perennial third-place finishers in a three-way
O&O news race.

With both stations now under the same roof, Greene and
Martin—whose contract is coming up for renewal—wouldn’t
have far to go traveling from one set to another.

A former independent that was once owned by Disney, KCAL is heavily
into news, with broadcasts at noon and 2, 3 and a three-hour block at 8 p.m.
Even more newscasts may be on the way next season, further reducing the number
of time slots open to syndicators in the nation’s No. 2 market.

With the infrastructure already in place, the large volume of news has
proved to be a financial boon to KCAL. Although the station pays limited
production costs, it avoids dishing out steep license fees and giving up
valuable advertising inventory for cash-plus- barter syndicated shows.

Over the past year, insiders say, the duopoly started handing out
contracts requiring on-air talent to appear on both stations if required by
management, which would alleviate any issues that might arise with their union,
AFTRA.

To date, KCBS and KCAL reporters have routinely switched between
stations, as does KCBS sportscaster Jim Hill on occasion. KCAL anchor Pat
Harvey has also appeared on both outlets, but only for a limited time while
filing reports from Rome during the selection of the new pope. Fox, which owns
the other VHF duopoly in the market, has 10 p.m. KTTV sportscaster Rick Garcia
handle the co-anchoring duties on KCOP’s half-hour 11 p.m. weekday
newscasts.

In Springfield, Mo., Cable’s Not King

Springfield, Mo., doesn’t often make TV history, but, in May,
the market achieved an industry first. Satellite penetration in Springfield,
Nielsen’s 78th-largest market, surpassed cable. According to a Horizon
Media study of Nielsen Media Research data, 39.6% of TV homes there opt for
satellite, versus 39.2% hooked to cable. That’s the first time satellite
has outperformed cable in a local market. Mediacom is the major cable operator
in the area.

DBS growth poses a challenge to cable operators as they try to grow
local ad sales. Cable operators sell against local broadcast stations and need
to constantly show their reach. If satellite poaches more subscribers, that
reach decreases.

DirecTV and EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network, the two
largest DBS services, count a combined 25.4 million subscribers this year, up
from 14.8 million in 2000. Many of those customers live in rural areas, which
cable operators often deem too difficult and costly to wire.

The number of satellite devotees is booming in some spots. In
Meridian, Miss., 40% of households buy satellite service, the first time DBS
has crossed that mark in any market (cable there still has 47%).

Nationwide, DBS has infiltrated more than 35% of homes in 10 markets.
But cable operators still dominate the largest cities. In New York, Chicago,
Boston and Philadelphia, fewer than 15% of TV homes subscribe to DBS. In
more-sprawling markets, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas-Ft. Worth, its
penetration is closer to 25%.—Allison
Romano

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