Ready to take off

Corpus Christi, Texas, is about to boom, says KZTV(TV) General Manager Dale Remy of his market. "It's got beautiful waterfront property, and it's getting major housing developments, more cruise ships, hotels, resorts. We've got a lot of oil business, but this community could be a poster child for the coexistence of industry and ecology [with] clean water and employee safety. You could catch a fish and eat it right off the bank."

Part-owner of KZTV and Eagle Creek Broadcasting, Remy puts his money where his mouth is. "Next year may be tough, given the oil business, but I like the 10-year horizon."

A strong political season is expected to bring the market much of the way back from its nearly 14% drop from 2000 to 2001. As in most markets, automotive advertising ranks at the top, followed by fast food and retail. One unusually strong category, notes KIII(TV) General Manager Dick Drilling, is attorney advertising.

Texas Television-owned ABC affil KIII has been the most consistent local-news ratings winner and brings in the most money: about $10 million a year, according to BIA Financial. Second in ratings and with about $8.35 million is Evening Post's KRIS-TV. Eagle Creek's CBS affil KZTV follows in overall ratings, but Entravision's Univision affil KORO(TV) passed it in revenue by more than $1 million, taking in $2.7 million.

In the July ratings book, KIII lost in late news to rival KRIS-TV, but now-retired KIII GM Bob White attributed that to his forgetting to tell Nielsen about two days' newscasts' being preempted by sports.

"We're not in the ratings race in local news," acknowledges Remy. "We're a distant third. But we're double where we were last year. We've redone the news, redone the on-air look, the graphics, infrastructure, traffic, accounting, and we're buying ads on radio and cable." It's all about commitment to the market, he says. "It's on the verge of breaking through."