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SUPER BOWL SPECIAL : TV Stations, Networks Gear Up for Camera's Ultimate Extravaganza

January 29, 1988|MICHAEL GRANBERRY | Times Staff Writer

The Super Bowl is primarily a television extravaganza, the kind of happening that just wouldn't be without a camera.

This year's game is being shown in 59 countries, including Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg and Iceland.

The top-rated shows of the 1986-87 television season were Super Bowl XXI and the Super Bowl XXI post-game show.

It only follows that television stations in the host city face enormous pressures--scrutiny from networks, competition from ratings-mad rivals and most important of all, the whims of viewers forced to limit themselves to a channel at a time.

Just the 2nd Time for ABC Television

Super Bowl XXII is set for Sunday at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

ABC is televising the game for only its second time.

For more than a year, executives at KGTV (Channel 10), San Diego's ABC affiliate, have been eyeing the game--and the week building up to it--with edgy anticipation.

Now, they're talking of "owning" the story.

"We've got to get in early," said Bill Gray, assistant news director at Channel 10. "We'll dedicate all of our people to it, everyone we've got. We'll strive to become San Diego's Super Bowl station, and because we've got the game, we've got the edge. What we must avoid is blowing it. We'll do as much as we can to solidify our Number-1 ranking."

The Channel 10 news department holds a ratings lead over rivals at KFMB-TV (Channel 8, CBS) and KCST-TV (Channel 39, NBC), which also plan extensive coverage.

Local Stations Are Promoting the City

All three network affiliates plan features and promotional segments calculated to pound home the point that San Diego is indeed the host and ought to feel super about such a super accomplishment.

Are the stations being . . . boosteristic?

"You bet," said Judy Vance, creative services director at Channel 10. "Hosting the Super Bowl and the America's Cup proves that San Diego is emerging as a city."

As a promotional expert, Vance sees an opportunity for the station to enhance its own image while the city does the same.

Her boss--Ed Quinn, general manager of KGTV, which is owned by McGraw-Hill publishing company--agrees.

Showing 'This Is a New San Diego'

"I was amazed when I first came here," Quinn said. "I couldn't believe a city of this size, with this much appeal, lacked a major convention center. Now, the city is building one. The convention center and the Super Bowl are an opportunity to say, 'This is a new San Diego.' "

"This is really an opportunity for us to showcase San Diego to the nation and the world," said Don Lundy, Channel 10 program director.

It is also an opportunity for ABC to promote--and bolster--itself. And for the affiliates, especially San Diego's, to reap the effects.

"For a while now, ABC has staggered as the third-place network," Quinn said, referring to the network nationally. "But we see a renaissance at ABC. For a network on the road back, having the Super Bowl is a big, big carrot."

A Busy Year at Channel 10 and ABC

Vance said the past year has already been stressfully big for Channel 10. The station was host to the Holiday Bowl marathon, an "Ask the Media" segment featuring ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, and now it has the Super Bowl and the '88 Winter Olympics to round out a very full plate.

Vance said having the Super Bowl "on our own air" gives the station a distinct advantage.

That doesn't mean its competitors are giving up.

Channel 8, the CBS affiliate, plans live coverage from the La Jolla Marriott from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday, with sportscasters Ted Leitner and Jim Laslavic as the hosts.

Leitner and Laslavic will anchor coverage from the stadium parking lot Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Channel 8 Plans a Tailgate Show

"Will we be at a disadvantage because 10 is carrying the game?" asked Jules Moreland, director of programming at Channel 8. "Well, we'd love to have it, but no disadvantage with Leitner and Laslavic. They'll do a heck of a tailgate show. It should be a lot of fun."

Channel 39, the NBC affiliate, has been having 15-minute Super Bowl segments all week, starting at 11:30 p.m. Penciled in for Saturday night is a half-hour special starting at 7:30, with sportscaster Al Keck as host.

All three stations have received an avalanche of requests from out-of-town stations hoping to use satellite equipment, additional cameras, and such.

Channel 10 turned down a request from ESPN, the cable sports network, which wanted to lease the station's helicopter.

"We kind of thought we'd be using it," said Gray, the assistant news director.

Worries About Weather, Microwaves

Gray worries about the weather, which could affect every decision made involving coverage pre-kickoff and beyond. He frets over the science fiction-like disaster of so many microwave transmissions taking place that "a lot of stations get technologically frozen."

"There are only so many satellite frequencies available," he said. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly, according to plan. But with so much technology zooming around, you never know."

For the most part, Gray's feelings are optimistic. He's excitable when it comes to the game.

"We hope it's a great big party for San Diego. So many folks from San Diego can't go to the Super Bowl. We see our role as going there for them. We'll show every facet of it, and we hope to do it better than anyone else.

"In other words, we hope to own it."

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