When it comes to morning news on L.A.'s local television, Fox's KTTV (Channel 11) continued to dominate the ratings through this year's November "sweeps," a period of time that is used to set shows' advertising value.
Since 2002, KTTV's "Good Day LA" has continuously led the morning media pack by sticking with its well-established anchor team.
Last month, it averaged 105,000 daily viewers between the ages of 18-49, ahead of morning news broadcasts on KABC (Channel 7) nationally broadcast "Good Morning America" with 70,000 viewers; KNBC (Channel 4) national "Today Show," with 60,000 viewers; KTLA (Channel 5) local "Morning News" with 58,000 viewers; and KCBS (Channel 2) "Early Show," pulling in a paltry 10,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
"Good Day LA" was up 2 percent in its ratings compared with the same month last year.
"I truly believe that our success can be directly attributed to our news team," said Kevin Hale, vice president and general manager, KTTV (Channel 11) and KCOP (Channel 13).
While longtime anchors at morning news shows such as Tribune-owned KTLA have been replaced by lesser-paid new blood, KTTV has kept its core anchor team together since the mid-1990s, allowing viewers to build vicarious relationships with the anchors.
"Getting an audience to adjust to new talent is a very difficult and lengthy process," Hale said. "When you've got a team that gels together, you just get out of the way and let them run with it."
"Good Day L.A." morning team led by veteran newsman Steve Edwards, Dorothy Lucey and Jillian Barberie Reynolds are wildly improvisational. Hale said that he believes viewers appreciate their unpredictable style and the ratings numbers reflect that fact.
Meanwhile, Hale has put together a new half-hour local show called "News at Noon" that is slated to begin airing locally Dec. 8, featuring news anchors Tony McEwing and Jean Martirez covering news. Lisa Breckenridge covering entertainment, and Maria Quiban providing weather forecasts.
Public Access Piggy Bank
The city has been siphoning tens of millions of dollars into the general fund that was supposed to be going toward public access television, said Councilman Bill Rosendahl.
"The city has been receiving 5 percent of the franchise fees being paid by the cable companies since the 1990s, but the city has been keeping 60 percent, or $25 million, of those fees and placing them into the general fund," said Rosendahl, a former cable show host and executive.
About 10 percent of that $25 million has gone toward funding public education and government television, such as L.A. CityView 35, which broadcasts City Council and Board of Supervisor meetings and LA36, which broadcasts live concerts, educational shows and high school sports, according to the Informational and Technology Agency, which oversees public access television throughout the city.
Last week, the ITA recommended that the council vote to scrap the majority of its public access television studios and pare down its channels to four by year's end, when cable and telecommunications companies will no longer be legally required to operate about a dozen public access studios throughout the city.
After protests from more than 100 local producers lobbied councilmembers, the council directed the agency to come up with a new plan that could accommodate at least one additional channel and studio for a new citywide public access television channel.
Under the terms of a new state law that strips cities of their rights to negotiate franchise fees from cable and telecommunications companies, the city will now receive only about $5 million a year. That money is restricted to capital expenditures, meaning that it can't be used to maintain the 40 full- and part-time employees that now work in 12 public access studios throughout the city.
In a move to consolidate its power in the television and film casting industries, Breakdown Services Ltd. recently acquired CastingAbout, an online industry casting service, for an undisclosed sum. Former actor Gary Marsh founded Breakdown Services in 1971. It was the first such agency of its kind, providing actors and agents' script outlines from casting directors looking for talent. CastingAbout was formed in 2004 by Brian Wold and Blair Hickey. Breakdown Services already owns and operates similar services such as ActorsAccess.com and VirtualChannelNetwork.com.
Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at email@example.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.
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