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KXAS, KHOU Sweeps' Gains

An identity crisis helped KXAS Dallas-Fort Worth nab top late-news
ratings in February sweeps. On seven nights last month, the NBC O&O
showcased investigative series “Identity Theft,” demonstrating how easily a
person's identity can be stolen. “We hit on something people care about,”
says News Director Susan Tully.

In one story, “Stealing a U.S. Senator's Identity,” reporter Grant
Stinchfield located Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's Social Security number online
and printed checks with her name and address. He explained how viewers could
secure their identities and directed viewers to the KXAS Web site.

The series helped boost KXAS in a tight news race. Its 10 p.m. news
posted a 10.9/17, edging out CBS O&O KTVT's 8.82/14, and Belo-owned ABC
affiliate WFAA's 8.81/14. Fox-owned KDFW placed fourth with a 5.5/9.

KHOU Scores

Farther south, Belo's KHOU Houston is picking off ratings wins one
newscast at a time. For the first time in five years, it earned top marks in
February at noon, 5, 6 and 10 p.m., according to Nielsen. In November, it won
late news but finished second to ABC O&O KTRK in evening. By February, KHOU
was tops in noon, evening and late news. “Month by month, 11 News is building
momentum,” says President/GM Peter Diaz. “Our brand is strong investigative
reporting and franchise pieces in every newscast.” It has also scored Peabody
and DuPont awards.

Of course, lead-ins help. Oprah sets
up the early-evening news, and Wheel of
is the lead-out. Later, CBS' solid prime time delivers
more viewers into late news. But to get a full house, KHOU needs an
early-morning news win. KTRK dominates that daypart; its 8.8/27 beat KHOU's
4.1/13 last month.

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