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KTTV News Not Helped by Ad Blitz

December 02, 1987|STEVE WEINSTEIN

Despite an expensive monthlong advertising blitz designed to introduce KTTV-TV Channel 11's new news anchors to Southern Californians, ratings for the Fox-owned station's 10 p.m. newscast did not improve during the November ratings sweeps.

During October, without any promotion, Channel 11's prime-time newscast averaged a 3 rating in the A. C. Nielsen service (with each rating point representing 46,527 households). During November, KTTV took out color ads in local newspapers and TV Guide and rented 400 billboards across the city asking viewers to "Meet Andrea" (Naversen) and "Meet Bill" (Redeker), Channel 11's anchors since the revamped Fox News premiered at 10 p.m. in September.

The result: The station's news ratings remained the same.

KTLA-TV Channel 5, the perennial news champion among local independent stations, doubled Channel 11's audience during November, scoring an average 6.1 rating for its 10 p.m. newscast--virtually the same as in October.

KCOP-TV Channel 13, on the other hand, increased its news viewership. Buoyed by strong movie lead-ins in November, it boosted the previous month's ratings for its 10 p.m. newscast by nearly 33%, moving into a virtual tie with Channel 11.

Don Searle, KCOP's research director, said that despite the extra competition at 10 p.m. from KTTV, which until September did not even have such a newscast, Channel 13 registered its highest Arbiron rating ever for its nightly newscast.

Searle also said that the networks' share of the prime-time audience in Los Angeles was down 7% from November, 1986, so that the combined audience for news at 10 p.m. on the three independent stations was as large as it has ever been. More than 20% of the television viewers in Los Angeles on any given night last month eschewed the networks' last hour of entertainment programming in favor of news on Channels 5, 11 and 13. (An additional 5% watched the 9 p.m. news on KHJ-TV Channel 9.)

Though Channel 11 did not enjoy a larger share of that larger news audience during the November sweeps, Bob Morse, KTTV's general manager, said he was neither surprised nor disappointed that his station's promotional campaign, which was launched at the end of October, did not produce immediate results.

"Our business does not work that way," Morse said, "particularly with the type of campaign we did. You can hype an audience quickly with sex and violence. But we won't do that."

Morse said it will take time for Channel 11 to build a sizable news audience. He also said last month's advertising barrage--the cost of which he declined to reveal--was the first step in the station's long-term plan to become a major competitor in the L.A. news game.

Meanwhile, KTTV's 11 p.m. newscast, which had been scheduled to premiere this week as a lead-in to "The Wilton North Report," Fox's now-postponed late-night comedy, is also on hold.

Morse said he has offered the KTTV 11 p.m. anchor job to Kirstie Wilde of KNBC-TV Channel 4, but she is under contract there until the end of January. KNBC has not said whether it will permit Wilde to jump to Fox.

Morse said he is waiting on that decision before deciding whether to plunge ahead with the 11 p.m. newscast with Naversen in the anchor chair or to postpone the newscast's premiere until Wilde becomes available in February.

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