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Straddling two worlds

The Yuma, Ariz.-El Centro, Calif., market covers two states, two countries and two time zones. Although it ranks near the bottom of the top 200 DMAs in the U.S., if the large audiences across the border in Mexicali and San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, were counted, it would become a market of nearly 2 million and jump more than a hundred DMA rankings.

It is a growing but not particularly lucrative market, however, with a per capita income under $10,000 among its U.S. viewers. The market population has grown by nearly half in the past decade. Palm Springs, Calif., slightly to the north but a world away financially, is only nine spots ahead in DMA rankings but brings in more than twice the revenue. Where Palm Springs moves from DMA No. 161 to 137 on a financial basis, Yuma-El Centro goes from 171 to 177.

The market has no ABC affiliate, but viewers can receive ABC programs—if they have cable—from KABC-TV Los Angeles or KNXV-TV Phoenix.

Five over-the-air signals from Mexico can be viewed in the market across the border, including new nets Azteca and Televisa. "Much of our potential market is in Mexico," says Paul Heebink, general manager at local NBC affiliate and market leader KYMA, which brings in nearly half the market's revenue.

And Heebink is not put off by potential language barriers for an English-language station serving Mexicans and Americans. "Our research tells us that 80% of the Hispanics in our area are bilingual," he says. Ten percent of the Hispanics on the U.S. side, he says, "can't speak Spanish. We have about 30 people working here with Hispanic surnames. Half don't speak Spanish at all."

As in most markets, automotive is the largest advertiser, but the market is also heavily influenced by the strong local agriculture and tourism industries, military presence and trade with Mexico.