Stations ride NBC coattails

Many log victories in overall viewing and local news; KRON-TV fades without net

The NBC network's victory in May sweeps naturally spurred some triumphs as well for its station group. Its stations won in overall viewing and in local news in the top two markets, New York and Los Angeles; its KXAS-TV tied with Belo's WFAA-TV in No. 7 Dallas; WRC-TV won again in No. 8 Washington; and NBC-owned stations held second in the top markets it didn't win.

Not all the news was good, of course. In Chicago, ABC-owned WLS-TV continued its hold on first place in local news and overall ratings.

In No. 4 market Philadelphia, a city with often dramatic competition among the top two stations, ABC-owned WPVI-TV retook its local leadership. Although recent departures by local newswomen, Rose Tibayan from WPVI-TV and Sharon Reed from WCAU(TV), may have seemed distracting, both stations continued to grow in local news audience during May sweeps.

WPVI-TV had been losing narrowly to NBC-owned rival WCAU in recent sweeps periods, but, as measured by Nielsen household numbers last month, it recaptured its 11 p.m. crown. CBS's KYW-TV dropped in most news time periods in the nation's fourth-largest market. A statement from the ABC station noted that its newscasts come back from lead-in drawbacks against NBC.

WPVI-TV won as well at 5 and 6 p.m., and those shows, a statement from the station pointed out, were the highest-rated weekday newscasts in their time periods in the top 20 markets.

As always, ground continued to shift in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, the nation's fifth-largest. KRON-TV was down from its glory days as an NBC affiliate and flat from its February numbers as an independent. But execs at the Young-owned station note growth in its news at 9 p.m. and early mornings and some in other prime as well.

Those changes in the market gave all four network-owned and affiliated stations a piece of a win. NBC's new KNTV won the 11 p.m. news race, CBS's KPIX-TV won in overall prime, KGO-TV won in overall household ratings, sign-on to sign-off, and Cox-owned Fox affiliate KTVU(TV)'s 10 p.m. newscast was the most-watched in the market.

In No. 2 Los Angeles, NBC-owned KNBC(TV)'s news rode ER
and the Law & Order
franchise to win at 11 p.m., with ABC's KABC-TV finishing second. CBS's KCBS-TV continued to drop and was last among the network stations in all competitive news broadcasts.

In the earlier newscasts, KABC-TV followed The Oprah Winfrey Show
to win at 4, 5 and 6 p.m., with KNBC finishing second.

Fox-owned KTTV(TV) beat Tribune's KTLA(TV) in the 10 p.m. slot. This week, Fox's KCOP(TV) will change its low-rated hour newscast at 10 p.m. to a half-hour at 11 p.m.

CBS's new duopoly station KCAL(TV), which it purchased from Young Broadcasting earlier this year, grew audience for its 8-11 p.m. news block. But the station now must do without main anchor and L.A. news icon Jerry Dunphy, who died last month.

In the No.1 DMA, New York City, WNBC(TV) continued its strength in overall ratings and in key local news slots, winning at both 6 and 11 p.m. WABC-TV placed second in those slots and tied with WNBC in early mornings. WCBS-TV won at noon, and the long ratings-plagued station was up at 4 and 5 p.m. and more than 25% at 6 p.m.

In the competitive 10 p.m. slot, WWOR-TV, which beat WNYW(TV) a year ago, dropped to third behind its now-Fox sister station and WPIX(TV), which grew audience to finish second.