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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

MEDIA: Advertising Down But Listening Up on Local Radio Despite War, Sweeps Bring Out the Worst in Local Television News

Traffic in Los Angeles may be a curse for commuters but it’s a blessing for the local radio industry.

More Angelenos are spending increasing amounts of time listening to the radio while they’re in their cars, according to a study released by the Southern California Broadcasters Association. The survey of 1,000 adults in the Los Angeles area, which was conducted by Arbitron Inc., showed more people listen to the radio than watch television or read a newspaper on a daily basis.

“You have less time to actually be at home,” said association President Mary Beth Garber. “That’s great for radio. It’s not so great if you’re trying to get your message across on television.”

The Los Angeles Lifestyle Study revealed that 39 percent of Angelenos spend more time listening to the radio than they did a year ago. Only 19 percent of respondents said they were watching more television and 22 percent said they were spending more time reading newspapers. While 42 percent said their television viewing had decreased and 32 percent said their newspaper reading was down, only 15 percent reported a decline in radio listening.

Still, radio and other media throughout the U.S. are suffering the worst decline in ad spending in years as companies cut back to make it through the recession. Many forecasters expect only limited relief until the middle of next year at the earliest, though with 2002 being an election year the outlook is better for the fourth quarter.

Nonprofit Again

The Los Angeles Press Club is on its way to becoming a nonprofit organization, again.

Founded in 1946, the professional association lost its nonprofit status after selling the building it once owned at 600 N. Vermont Ave. As a basic corporation, the club has to pay an annual fee to the state and file income taxes, a significant expense for a group with fewer than 400 members and $50-per-year membership fee. The club’s working members voted to apply for nonprofit status by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

Winning Web Site

KNBC-TV Channel 4 once again beat out television stations in major markets throughout the state in the annual Web-page news competition sponsored by the Associated Press Television-Radio Association of California & Nevada.

The KNBC site underwent a redesign last year when its parent network overhauled the Web sites of all its owned-and-operated stations. KNBC’s site now has 40,000 subscribers and attracts nearly 1 million page views a month, said Rob Feldman, new media news director for the station.

With the upgraded site, KNBC is looking to increase convergent advertising sales, offering exposure to viewers via television and the Internet. “We’ve figured out how to sell the Web,” Feldman said. “It’s just starting to make a dent in what our bottom line is.”

NATPE Blunder

The future of the National Association of Television Program Executives’ 2003 and 2004 conventions was recently called into question.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported last week that hotel operators in the city had received a letter from NATPE canceling room reservations for the two 20,000-person conventions. The letter was sent several days after the organization laid off six employees at its Santa Monica headquarters.

“NATPE is involved in fruitful discussions leading to a strategic plan regarding the configuration of the conference in 2003 to make it appropriate for both domestic and international members. This plan may or may not involve New Orleans,” Bruce Johansen, the group’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229 or at


Despite War, Sweeps Bring Out the Worst in Local Television News

Oops, they did it again.

Although local TV news started out low-key during the first part of the November sweeps in deference to a post-Sept. 11 sobriety, it didn’t take long to return to the usual frivolous and attention-grabbing fare.

The Britney Spears concert made the news, as did the Southern California man fighting with neighbors over his “sex parties.” One station tackled this age-old question: “How can two women eat the same thing and only one of them gain weight?”

“I thought I’d see harder news,” said Rick Marks, a journalism professor at Cal State Northridge who spent more than 23 years working for NBC. “(But) I’m seeing the same old soft, sensational, tabloid-type stories that always seem to be put on during the sweeps period.”

Jeff Wald, news director at KTLA-TV Channel 5, said some stations in the market returned to running sweeps-style stories. “We haven’t but I have noticed that our competition has,” he said.

“What happened on Sept. 11 had a profound change on all of us that are in the news, and I would think that even our competition that has gone back to the sweeps mentality have exercised some restraint as well,” Wald added, pointing out that he was being diplomatic.

Cheryl Fair, news director at KABC-TV Channel 7, insists that the war on terrorism and related topics remain priorities.

“It takes big, local breaking news to push the war off the front page,” she said. At KABC, some of those stories include a car chase, a storm and the Amtrak train crash in Camarillo.

Claudia Peschiutta

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