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A market heating up

In DMA No. 59, Tulsa, Okla., "the market's hot now," says Hal Capron, general manager of Clear Channel's KTFO(TV) Fox affiliate and KTPX(TV) UPN affiliate. "Not nationally, locally. Automotive has come back. Fast food is strong. There are new-car dealers in the market who are spending a lot of money."

J. Patrick Baldwin, general manager at market leader KTUL(TV), agrees. "It started getting hot before Sept. 11. Then it obviously cooled off. But, this year, we've been outpacing 2001 and, to some degree, 2000. When I got here five years ago, automotive advertising was going down." Automotive—the chassis on which TV revenue is built—took a dive in the late 1990s when Ford itself owned a significant number of Oklahoma dealerships. The automaker left that end of the business, and automotive advertising is coming back strong, local TV execs say.

But some prominent local companies are having significant job losses. "We used to do a weekly show called Jobs," Capron says. "We ran it on the weekends and repeated it four or five times a week. We had a job fair every quarter. We did it for a year." Capron had to pull the plug on the show because "the companies aren't hiring."

The local Fox station launched a late news following Fox's Super Bowl coverage. The show did about a 1 rating/2 share in February sweeps, not too bad, Capron says, against entrenched ABC and CBS affiliates and Olympic-strengthened KJRH(TV). KOKI-TV plans a 5:30 p.m. newscast for June and hopes to launch a morning show next year.

Even for an NBC affiliate, it can be an uphill fight when competitors KTUL and KOTV are so solidly entrenched. And, says KJRH General Manager Michael Kronley, in a diary market, "people wind up voting for their favorite station rather than recording what they actually watch. It's not a knock. We've got two very strong competitors."