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Tough Market, By Far

The logistics of operating a TV station in New Mexico are a little different from those in most markets. To start, the Albuquerque-Sante Fe DMA covers about 160,000 square miles, the nation's second-largest in area.

To cover that much ground, stations rely on satellite stations and translators—there are roughly 370 translators in the market, according to Eric Steffens, general manager of Fox affiliate KASA-TV. "We have one full-time man who does nothing but install and maintain our translators."

NBC affiliate KOB-TV has three full-power satellite TV stations and 84 translators, according to General Manager Mike Burgess.

The large geographical area makes news coverage a challenge. Steffens, whose station has a news-sharing arrangement with KOB-TV, says: "Your lead story could be 300 miles away from the city of Albuquerque, but it's still in your market and the lead story."

John Greenwood, general manager of The WB affiliate KWBQ(TV) and UPN affiliate KASY-TV, says that, "in general, the market's fairly healthy. National revenues were up 17.5% in the first quarter. National spot and local revenues were relatively flat. I wouldn't call it a real growth market like it was in the early '90s, but, on the other hand, we don't have the real ups and downs that some portions of the U.S. experience year after year."

Steffens says his station's national billing "has been very good and local has been all right. Automotive did well up until the last few weeks. Telecommunications," he adds, "has been back, a pleasant surprise. Movies are the one area that is well behind last year. Money has started migrate to network platforms a little bit, and that's going to take it out of the spot realm."

Greenwood's battle plan is selling his two stations (owned by Acme) as a package. "If you're looking for a preponderance of women, young females, young-minded adults, then we would suggest our WB, while our UPN—with the WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment] properties, Everybody Loves Raymond
and Voyager—is more male-focused. So, between the two, you get the best of both worlds."