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KNBC Moves 'Donahue,' Aims 'Sally' at 'Oprah' : Television: With Winfrey's strong ratings advantage on KABC carrying over to the 4 p.m. news, Channel 4 switches Donahue's show to 2 p.m.


After getting stomped for years by TV's reigning talk-show dynamo, KNBC-TV Channel 4 is bringing in a new weapon Monday against "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on KABC-TV Channel 7: Sally Jessy Raphael.

At stake is not only advertising revenue during the 3 p.m. hour that both talk shows will air, but also who will wear the championship belt in local news.

For the last several years, "Oprah" has been crushing KNBC's "Donahue" in the ratings at 3 p.m., more than doubling his audience and providing KABC with a tremendous lead-in advantage to the news block that follows at 4 p.m.

KABC, riding the "Oprah" juggernaut, in turn has been No. 1 in news in the afternoon.

" 'Oprah' is an incredible powerhouse," said Reed Manville, KNBC's general manager. "We decided that if we couldn't have the No. 1 talk show, then we would go out and buy No. 2 and No. 3."

Manville said that in the national ratings, "Sally Jessy Raphael" and "Donahue" are fairly close, although "Sally" generally does better with women 18-49--the prime daytime advertising target. He decided to put "Sally" on against "Oprah" and move the 27-year-old "Donahue" show to 2 p.m., in part because the station had nothing to lose.

"Phil had been up against 'Oprah' for some time, and we have had limited success in putting a dent in her audience," Manville said. "So we weren't risking anything except that 'Sally' would get lucky and do better."

Until now, "Sally," which is beginning its 10th year, had been airing on KCAL-TV Channel 9 at 2 p.m. And while her numbers have remained strong in Los Angeles in recent years, "Donahue's" have been slipping.

Manville said that some of the same viewers who watch Winfrey are also fans of Raphael and might switch to KNBC when the shows compete head-to-head. He also said he expects "Donahue" to perform better at 2 p.m. than did "The Jenny Jones Show," which will move to the 2 p.m. slot on KCOP-TV Channel 13 on Sept. 13.

"Sally," which will roll out a new set, new theme music and new graphics Monday, came to KNBC after a hard-fought bidding war resulted in the show being awarded to all of the NBC-owned stations across the country. KCAL, the only television station owned by Disney, did not have that kind of multi-station leverage to retain the program.

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