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Jacksonville TV Preps for Big Game

When Jacksonville, Fla., hosts its first Super Bowl, Fox affiliate WAWS and sister CBS station WTEV will kick off the big-game bonanza with themed specials, extended newscasts and local entertainment.

In this midsize market, the Feb. 6 extravaganza can bring in about $1 million in added revenue. Susan Adams Loyd, VP/GM of the Clear Channel stations, won’t detail her station’s forecasts but says it will be “the single largest event” in Jacksonville TV history.

With Fox Broadcasting carrying the Super Bowl nationally, WAWS is taking the lead locally. Its “Super Bowl Central” package means super-sizing its weekend newscasts, delivering 6½ hours of news on Feb. 5 and two hours on Super Bowl Sunday. On weeknights leading up to the game, WTEV will add an extra 5 p.m. newscast.

The stations are also airing three locally produced entertainment specials. Super Tailgate Party, airing on WTEV Feb. 4 and 5, will feature two popular Jacksonville chefs and WTEV anchor Paul Folger cooking tailgate treats.

Behind the Scenes With Fox Sports on WAWS will show viewers how the big game comes together Feb. 3 and 5. The Super Bowl Buzz, hosted by WAWS entertainment reporter Leslie Coursey, will air live Feb. 4 with the latest on weekend festivities.

During the Super Bowl, local stations get about 12 spots and several more in adjacent pre- and post-game coverage. Loyd says WAWS has sold out its in-game ads, with regular advertisers, such as automakers, buying about 80% of the spots. In addition, WAWS and WTEV are signing up sponsors for their special events.

With so many eyes on Jacksonville, WAWS is using the Super Bowl attention to spotlight its revitalized investigative team. It is dedicating more resources to in-depth crime and health stories. Loyd also recruited Celine McArthur, who worked at WAWS before going to KVUE Austin, Texas, to return as an investigative reporter.

New NBC Affiliate: KHJ Pago Pago

NBC is heading to the South Pacific. The network’s newest and most exotic affiliate, KHJ in Pago Pago, American Samoa, signs on May 1. It is the only commercial TV station on the remote tropical island and the first affiliate for any American network.

A 20-mile-long strip located about 500 miles from Tahiti, American Samoa is a U.S. territory with 60,000 residents. Nielsen won’t measure ratings, but if it did, American Samoa would be the No. 191 market out of 211. The island is so remote, the closest U.S. TV market is Honolulu, a five-hour flight away.

American Samoa viewers have little access to American TV. The U.S. government owns a station, and local cable companies offer international channels, like CNN International and MTV Asia, rather than the American versions. Satellite isn’t an option, either. U.S. DBS companies DirecTV and EchoStar’s Dish Network don’t reach the region.

Still, the island’s residents “are Americans. They eat McDonald’s and drive Fords,” says Larry Fuss, president of South Seas Broadcasting, which owns the TV station and two local radio outlets: KKHJ(FM) and WVUV(AM). His company has been trying to bring American TV here for several years.

After waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to grant a new permit, it bought an existing one from religious programmer Trinity Broadcasting.

Fuss says he contacted all the networks but only NBC expressed interest. The station will pay NBC a small reverse-compensation fee, under $100,000, to carry its programming. KHJ also plans to buy some syndicated talk and game shows.

KHJ will offer local news and share news and ad-sales staff with its sister radio stations. Since American Samoa is six hours behind Eastern Time, KHJ plans to run most NBC programs on a six-hour tape delay.