Not just another pretty place

San Diego, says Darrell Brown, GM of KGTV, is an "awesome market." But his description doesn't apply only to the weather-beach combo. He says "awesome" also describes the television there: "It's a very competitive news market with good operators, good competition."

That competition has resulted in more newscasts, says Phyllis Schwartz, president/GM of KNSD. "There have been a lot of additions to morning and late-morning news," she says. "The most competitive time period over the years has been the 11 p.m. news, but the most growth in terms of viewers is the morning. Within the last two years, we added an hour of news, and some of the other stations have added noon shows, morning blocks and 6:30 p.m. shows. Can the market bear it? I think it can. The commute has gotten so difficult that people are coming home and going at all different hours, and the shows have been supported."

In addition to KGTV's newscasts and three-times-a-week editorials, the ABC affiliate is partners with Cox in a 24-hour local newschannel that's on all three cable systems in the DMA.

Being "awesome" means San Diego benefits from tourism. "Even though the market is the 25th DMA, revenue-wise it's 17," Brown says. "That's because of a lot of tourism and the influence of Tijuana. The Tijuana border crossing is the busiest border crossing in the world. If the growth continues, and no one sees it slowing down, probably within 18-24 months, we'll be ranked 23."

And Schwartz sees positive economic signs: "The first two quarters have been tough, although we see things possibly getting slightly better. One of the areas of big growth is Indian gambling. There's big competition going on, so there's money coming into the market as they try to brand themselves and compete. There's also a rise in the home-improvement category. So you're seeing some newly competitive things as we head into the end of the year."

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