Tuesday, June 11, 2002

KHON tops
in news ratings

The latest numbers indicate the audience
for locally produced news is shrinking

By Erika Engle

The story in the May TV ratings race depends upon which TV station general manager is doing the talking.

For John Fink, KHNL/KFVE-TV vice president and general manager, "this is the best news book in the history of the station." KHNL is the only station which can claim increased ratings for all of its news offerings.

To KHON-TV Vice President and General Manager Bill Spellman, the story is that "we're No. 1 ... unequivocally across the board" in local news programming. Anchor Joe Moore has returned to No. 1 after his 10 p.m. show fell to No. 2 during the Olympics-influenced February ratings.

KHON has ratings at 6 and 10 p.m.; KITV is down at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.; KGMB is down at 5 and flat at 6 and 10, according to the Nielsen Media Research ratings.

For Lynne Mueller, the soon-to-depart general manager at KGMB-TV, the station's No. 2 ranking at 6 p.m. is "a tribute to our news organization. What we lack in facilities, they really make up for in talent."

Mueller also sees more parity in the market.

"When you have extraordinary programming like the Olympics (during the February ratings) it interrupts habits and patterns and viewers sample everybody," Mueller said.

At KITV-TV, Mike Rosenberg, president and general manager, said the ABC affiliate will be "doing a couple things we can control ourselves," such as shifting lead-in programming to the 6 p.m. news, which is tied for third place.

The audience for locally produced news is shrinking, he said.

"Five share points in local news is gone and that's a lot," Rosenberg said. "It's somewhat problematic of newscasts, just as newspapers are losing circulation."

As Rosenberg sees it, the challenge is to produce a newscast that will attract younger viewers but not turn away loyal older viewers.

KHON's Spellman, who had not yet reviewed all the Nielsen ratings data, does not agree with the shrinking audience assessment.

"I've not seen significant audience erosion in the market. It's a fairly stable market," he said.

The November sweeps may present a different picture as at least one new local news show will be added and other programming changes will be made.

KITV's 5 p.m. news has been No. 1 for "eight years or something like that," Rosenberg said, but starting July 1 KHON will become the fourth station to introduce a local news show during the timeslot.

KGMB has picked up "Jeopardy," beginning with the fall season, Mueller said. Two back-to-back episodes will lead into the station's first afternoon newscast.

Late news ratings are commonly thought to key off network programming, which affiliates are required to air from 7 to 10 p.m.

That can be a good thing, as it is for affiliates of highly rated NBC and CBS, or it can be a bad thing as it was for ABC affiliates. "ABC from May to May was off 25 percent," Rosenberg said.

Fox, of which KHON is an affiliate, carries prime-time programming only until 9 p.m., giving the station discretion over what programming to run leading into its 10 p.m. news.

Timing can also be an issue. KHON, KITV and KGMB run prime-time programming on what's called "clock time," so that the stations' 10 p.m. news shows start on time. KHNL's late news often starts several minutes after 10.

Strong NBC lead-in programming has been seen as an advantage for KHNL as it runs more commercials and starts its newscast later than the others.

The idea is that viewers will be less like to change channels to another newscast, since they may have missed the top stories.

KHNL's Fink feels that TV remote-control devices take some of the steam out of the lead-in programming argument.

"When you had to get up to change the channel one could argue that lead-in was huge, but with 70-plus channels people are making the proactive choice to watch us in greater numbers than ever before," he said.

Hawaii TV ratings

5 p.m.

Station Show May 2002
May 2001

KITV local news 7/20 8/22

KHON Jeopardy 6/15 6/15

KGMB local news 5/13 6/15

KHNL local news 4/10 3/7

5:30 p.m.

Station Show May 2002
May 2001

KITV ABC News 8/19 8/20

KHON local news 6/15 6/14

KGMB CBS news 5/13 6/14

KHNL NBC news 4/11 4/10

6 p.m.

Station Show May 2002
May 2001

KHON local news 14/27 16/32

KGMB local news 6/13 6/13

KITV local news 6/12 7/14

KHNL local news 6/12 5/10

10 p.m News

Station Show May 2002
May 2001

KHON local news 11/24 14/28

KHNL local news 8/18 7/15

KGMB local news 7/14 7/15

KITV local news 6/13 8/16

A rating point represents the percentage of television households that are tuned in to a particular program or station. Share points represent the percentage of households using television at the time that are tuned to a particular program or station. There are approximately 398,500 households using television in Hawaii.

Source: Nielsen Station Index

E-mail to Business Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin