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Making do with two

The Watertown, N.Y., DMA boasts rivers, Great Lakes, mountains and 1,000 islands and sends a signal across an international border. But the No. 176 market has only two full-power commercial TV stations.

Long-dominant WWNY-TV is the market's oldest and its only one on the VHF dial. It has won every book in memory and takes in nearly three-quarters of the market's broadcast revenue. A year ago, owner United Communications partnered with Smith Broadcasting to form Watertown Television Corp. and launch a low-power Fox station, WNYF-TV. United later bought Smith out.

As a 100-plus DMA, the market gets its WB programming from a cable station—owned by a combo of Clear Channel, Time Warner Cable and Warner Bros. NBC programming comes to the market via cable, from stations in Syracuse and Plattsburgh.

The market enjoyed strong revenue growth in the '90s and dropped only 8% from record 2000 to 2001, less than many markets. National advertising has shrunk, and stations have had to rely on local. The market enjoys some Canadian advertising, but less than a few years ago, says WWTI(TV) General Manager David Males.

WWTI cut back its news product and staff this spring, eliminating weekend and noon newscasts and combining with Clear Channel stations in Utica and Binghamton, N.Y., for a two-hour centralcast morning news. "Our centralcasting technology has enabled us to keep a local news presence," says Males.

WWNY-TV General Manager Cathy Pircsuk says WWNY-TV and WNYF-TV are cross-promoted and offer advertising packages for sports on both.

Automotive, furniture and fast food are advertising staples. The recreational opportunities afforded by the St. Lawrence River, Adirondack Mountains and Lake Ontario make tourism and sporting goods solid categories as well.