KABC L.A. News King

RELATED ABC7LA ARTICLES: KABC-TV Rates Big | KABC, KTLA sweep ahead | KABC Wins the Sweeps
: ABC7.com | ABC.com | ABC NEWS |
Wheel | Jeopardy!

(NOTE: Each link opens in a new window)
December 1, 1992/Jim Benson

A few painfully obvious conclusions can be drawn from the first disaster-free major sweeps period in Los Angeles in recent memory.

For starters, the just-concluded November measurement period pretty much quashed the belief that an anchor can make or break a newscast.

Just ask the folks at KABC-TV, who first let Jerry Dunphy go to KCAL-TV and then abandoned Paul Moyer to KNBC-TV.

The result: KABC, assisted by a strong network prime time performance, sweeps every news time period for the first time in at least five years, and breaks KNBC's stranglehold on the 6 a.m. news block in the process. All this without the two most prominent anchors in the local market.

KNBC, which suffered declines in all of its newscasts, complains that its ratings are down because the network is hurting in prime time and its longtime early fringe news lead-in, "Donahue," is off year-to-year. Consequently, fewer viewers are seeing its on-air news promos, which hurts all of its newscasts.

If it were as simple as that, however, the station's news director would not have resigned under pressure yesterday.

Besides, the station spent a fortune on print and radio advertising during the sweeps, so that excuse wears a little thin.

Maybe KNBC's problems have something to do with its coverage. While the station has been ridding itself of some seasoned vet reporters and bringing in raw (and less expensive) talent from smaller markets, KABC has spent the last four years beefing up its reporting staff with some faces who are familiar with the market.

KABC, however, is not the only station benefiting from KNBC's losses. The market's perennial news also-ran, KCBS-TV, has made some significant ratings gains.

Its biggest win came at 6 p.m. in Nielsen, where KCBS beat KNBC by almost a full rating point. The victory marks the first time since 1984 that KCBS has grabbed second place in three consecutive major sweeps periods (February, May and November), but this time the margin of victory is wider.

KCBS' early evening news ratings grew year-to-year in both Arbitron and Nielsen, but its late news ratings declined slightly --perhaps due in part to a drop in the network's prime time ratings.

Love him or hate him, credit for KCBS' gains must go to news director John Lippman, who has brought many changes to the newscast since he joined the station at the beginning of the year (for better or worse, depending on one's point of view).

His abrasive style has ruffled the feathers of some underlings and shocked some traditionalists, but the moves appear to paying off in terms of ratings growth.

Both KCBS and KNBC have problems extending beyond just news, however.

The NBC station has taken some big hits at 3 p.m. with "Donahue" down a ratings point in both services.

KNBC's salvation could come a year from now when it acquires "Sally Jessy Raphael," currently the highest-rated syndie talkshow from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The program, which comes along with "Jerry Springer," could help alleviate some of the station's problems in daytime and possibly help its afternoon news.

In access, the station saw year-to-year declines in both "Entertainment Tonight" and "Hard Copy." There do not appear to be any quick fixes on the horizon to cure that profitable daypart.

At KCBS, a glance at the ratings would indicate two major problem areas: The 3-4 p.m. block, where "Wiseguy" reruns are grabbing lousy numbers (an announcement about a replacement is imminent) and from 7-8 p.m., where "You Bet Your Life" and "Family Feud" replaced powerhouses "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!"

The fate of "Life" will rest with the November demos, which won't be available for two more weeks, while "Feud" has shown some growth during its first few weeks in access.

KABC also proved that reversing the order of the two former KCBS gameshows--airing "Jeopardy!" at 7 and "Wheel" at 7:30--can make a strong entry even stronger. "Jeopardy!" jumped 1.6 rating points and "Wheel" climbed 1.3 points from the previous November.

On the indies, KCAL has a major job ahead of it as it struggles to boost its last-place showing in the profitable 5-8 p.m. block. The station has abandoned expensive off-net sitcoms in favor of local and firstrun fare (it has to pay more for off-net sitcoms because it is the only L.A. station without a counterpart in New York to share the burden).

Sitcoms produced mixed results for the other indies. Double runs of "Saved by the Bell" and "Full House" proved to be a potent force on KTLA, while KCOP's back-to-back airings of "Roseanne" proved to be a strong second-place finisher in the 6-7 p.m. block. KTTV's "The Wonder Years" and KTLA's "Murphy Brown" both showed some weakness in their early fringe and access periods, however.