Shift of KCOP News Slot Could Bring Cut Of Sex and Violence

By CLAUDIA PESCHIUTTA

Staff Reporter

Moving KCOP-TV (Channel 13) newscasts to the 11 p.m. time slot could bring a change to the station's format that has been heavy on crime and sex but long suffering in the ratings.

Station officials announced last week that they would do away with KCOP's hour-long newscast at 10 p.m., so as not to compete with a similar newscast on sister station KTTV-TV (Channel 11). Both stations are owned by News Corp., which last year acquired former Channel 13 owner Chris-Craft Industries Inc.

Starting on June 3, reruns of "Seinfeld" and "Frasier" will fill the 10 p.m. slot and the 11 p.m. news will be a half-hour.

"Our competitive landscape is different," said David Boylan, vice president and general manager of both KTTV and KCOP. "We're (going to be) competing with older, traditional stations, so I think you're going to see some adjustments." He would not elaborate.

Instead of competing against KTTV, KCAL-TV (Channel 9) and KTLA-TV (Channel 5), the broadcast will now be up against the three network owned-and-operated stations, KCBS-TV (Channel 2), KNBC-TV (Channel 4) and KABC-TV (Channel 7). All three have stronger programming on before and after their late night newscasts. In addition, the network-owned stations likely have much larger news budgets than KCOP.

"What they will be up against is a higher level newscast so they will have to rise to that level," said Rick Marks, a journalism professor at California State University, Northridge.

"UPN News 13" has become known for its sensational approach to attract younger viewers who tune in for "WWF Smackdown!" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" which currently run before the 10 p.m. newscast.

With KTTV's broadcast more than doubling the ratings posted by "UPN News 13," KCOP was the one asked to make the changes. "We're able to provide local news at 10 o' clock and 11 o' clock," said Boylan. "We're able to have more of a news reach."

Boylan said the changes would not result in immediate layoffs but that some open positions would remain unfilled. The stations are keeping their respective news directors.

"We'll be looking for the strongest potential tie-in to our lead-ins," Boylan said. He also pointed out that the one-hour sitcom block would give KCOP's news a more consistent lead-in than the ever-changing UPN primetime line-up has provided.

KCOP's move to 11 p.m. will have some effect on the time slot for other stations but it will be minimal, said an executive at one of the network-owned stations.

"(UPN News 13) is an afterthought in the market," the executive said. "If their long-term performance at 10 p.m. is any indication of their future performance at 11 p.m., they won't be a major factor in the marketplace."

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