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News in the Northwest

In Portland, Ore., KPTV has achieved a rare feat for a Fox affiliate: The Meredith Broadcasting-owned station's 10 p.m. news is the market's most-watched late news, outperforming its competitors' 11 p.m. newscasts. The lead has emboldened the Fox affiliate to expand into 11 p.m. and go head-to-head with its chief rival, NBC affiliate KGW.

Last May, KPTV notched a 7.3 rating at 10 p.m., while Belo-owned KGW posted a 6.8 rating at 11. But KPTV's previous wins had already inspired the station to field an 11 p.m. newscast in February, when the NBC affiliate's news was routinely out-of-pattern during the Winter Olympics.

“Why not go into our competitors' backyard at 11 p.m.?” says General Manager Kieran Clarke. KGW leads at 11 p.m., but, Clarke notes, “we've been a solid No. 2 in the time slot.”

For its part, KGW jumped into the 10 p.m. game a year ago, when it began producing an early late news for Tribune's CW affiliate KRCW when it was a WB affiliate.

KPTV and KGW are in a close race in early mornings, too. In May, KPTV had the advantage with its four-hour hyper-local block, which is followed by a locally produced infotainment show at 10 a.m.

KGW handily wins early-evening news; KPTV does not offer news in that time period but is considering a move there.

Other news stations in Nielsen's No. 23 market are experiencing big changes. SJL Broadcasting and Blackstone Group recently purchased CBS affiliate KOIN from Emmis Communications and laid off some two dozen staffers.

The new owners have “made sizable capital investments,” says General Manager Marty Ostrow, including a recently implemented Ignite production system and new weather technology.

Adjusting to some changes, however, forced KOIN to cancel its Sept. 7 noon newscast. The station blamed the problem on a computer error and ran a crawl explaining its technical difficulties to viewers.

Plans call for new studio and electronic newsgathering video cameras.

Fisher Communications' ABC affiliate KATU has a new general manager, John Tamerlano, who previously worked at KOIN, and news director, Don Pratt, most recently at WHDH Boston. Tamerlano says the station is putting more emphasis on its news writing and graphics. Ratings have been building in the last several books, he says.

Fisher also took over Univision affiliate KPOU in July, and plans call for eventually adding local news.

In syndication moves, KGW is running Rachael Ray's hot new talk show, as well as advice show Dr. Keith Ablow. This fall, KRCW added Tyra Banks and Greg Behrendt.

Local broadcasters are operating in a healthy and vibrant market known for its environmental and social activism.

The market took a hit when the technology bubble burst five years ago, but since then, says KRCW General Manager John Manzi, “we've grown steadily.”

Last year, local broadcasters in the Rose City took in $165.3 million in gross revenue, according to BIA Financial.

This year, political spending on federal and state races and ballot initiatives is expected to contribute about $7 million to station coffers.

“The outlook here is positive,” says KGW's Clarke. “We're adding jobs, home values are up, and people are finding it desirable to move here.”

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