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Going All Out in L.A.

Buena Vista Television (BVT) has launched a midsummer promotional blitz with billboards around Los Angeles touting The Tony Danza Show's move to 9 a.m. weekdays this fall on KCAL.

Danza may need more face time since his show will have to go head-to-head with the studio's own syndication juggernaut, Live With Regis and Kelly on KABC.

In many ways, Los Angeles is a litmus test for Danza, the only freshman strip returning next season. The show must succeed in the nation's No. 2 market if it is to survive at all. Danza will inherit a tough time period, where expectations have been low in the past.

KCAL has struggled for years in the morning hour; the latest casualty was Sony Pictures TV's cancelled Life & Style. Despite that, the station ranks second in the market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a heavy rotation of successful news and court shows.

If Danza fails to perform, the station, part of the CBS duopoly in L.A., could decide to launch a newscast from 9 to 10 a.m. BVT is aggressively working to ensure success by making top-level producing changes and securing major- market upgrades.

Expecting Improved Ratings

While acknowledging that L.A. “is a mighty important piece” of the equation, Lloyd Komesar, executive VP of strategic research at BVT, points out that Danza should see ratings improvement there and in every top-10 market, where it will have across-the-board daytime clearances for the first time, in 2005-06.

Besides L.A., where Danza moves from 2:35 a.m. weekdays on KABC, it will shift this fall to noon on NBC's WMAQ Chicago from the early-morning hours on WLS. Neither ABC station had room for the sibling division's show in daytime.

Other upgrades for Danza include 10 a.m. on Fox-owned WTTG Washington, where it had no clearance this past season, and 2 p.m. on Fox's WFXT Boston, from late night on WCVB.

While competing with Regis in L.A. may not be the optimum scenario for a program about to come under more- intense ratings scrutiny, Komesar points out that other shows, such as KTTV's local Good Day L.A. and KNBC's third hour of Today, have managed to survive against Regis.

“It is going to take some time to see what we've got,” he says. “Tony is arriving in a competitive time period. As 9:00 stands right now, it is a good place to get established for light-entertainment talk. We will nurture the program and build a real number.”