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The LA News Scene Cliffs Notes


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So I'm a transplant from Philly new into town for around a month, and I've been wondering about the history here (in a nutshell, for brevity's sake). I'm coming from Philly, where it'd be easy to say "WPVI is the perennial powerhouse, WCAU has come a long way in recent years and KYW is currently on the strugglebus". Who's tops here (Spanish & English!)? Is anyone a nonfactor? I gotta say I appreciate being in a city with local news on one channel or another nearly all day long. 

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1 hour ago, PhillyWatch said:

So I'm a transplant from Philly new into town for around a month, and I've been wondering about the history here (in a nutshell, for brevity's sake). I'm coming from Philly, where it'd be easy to say "WPVI is the perennial powerhouse, WCAU has come a long way in recent years and KYW is currently on the strugglebus". Who's tops here (Spanish & English!)? Is anyone a nonfactor? I gotta say I appreciate being in a city with local news on one channel or another nearly all day long. 

 

It's pretty much the same as NYC, ABC 7 leads the charge. NBC 4 follows, iirc and CBS 2 is third.

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Just some of the tips I can think of in the moment: Watch all channels to catch on to their idiosyncrasies. I would definitely stylize LA news as quite a bit more tabloid-y than those of Philly. No "action news" here; it's all about the "eyewitness". Before the pandemic, I would've largely said ABC7 saw the least turnover, as you might have expected, and though that is still mostly true, the gap between it and its competitors on that issue here has shrunken somewhat due to COVID. There are multiple (or one) LA powerhouse(s) [Pat Harvey, Marc Brown, Colleen & Chuck, Christine Devine, etc.] with long histories at each station, unlike in Philly where Jim and Ukee are essentially the only figures left with a deep Philly legacy. But a lot of legacy anchors and talent have also "cross contaminated" between stations, if you will. Lots have originated from ABC and moved to competing stations to gain their own prominence. Some also left CBS for KTLA (because, yes, it has been kind of a mess). Speaking of which, KTLA is a bigger deal than one would think for a CW-affiliated station, particularly thanks to its strength in the mornings; it's pretty culturally relevant. There's also KCAL9, which is CBS-owned, and known for its primetime news, long before CBS bought it in 2002.

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3 hours ago, ABC 7 Denver said:

 

It's pretty much the same as NYC, ABC 7 leads the charge. NBC 4 follows, iirc and CBS 2 is third.

I would imagine KTLA plays into second or third for some day parts? They’re certainly the strongest station in the AM hours to know knowledge. 
 

Fox 11 seems to be the only non factor in the market which is a change from 20 years ago where they at least dominated mornings.

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KTLA leads/dominates in the morning. Their morning news block goes from 4am-2pm. ABC7 leads afternoons, followed by NBC4/KTLA. CBS2 is a non factor, sadly. Led by market vet Pat Harvey and sports legend Jim Hill. Just going off of memory, I think KVEA (Telemundo) has overtaken KMEX (Univision) in terms of ratings for spanish language. KVEA recently lost main female Ana Patricia Candiani. She had been with the network for quite sometime, but transitioned back to local within the past decade. She was a welcomed pillar of stability. 

 

I live in Southern California and was raised here. I have been a news junkie for years. If you need any other info on the market, let me know!

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Agree with FiveNews. KTLA dominates in the morning and over the years has expanded its newscast to run 10 hours (4am-2pm). KTLA against KTTV and KCAL at 10p.m. is also #1. KTTV is a former shell of itself "ratings wise" and was much stronger and actually beat KTLA in the mornings and 10pm. slot in the early 2000s.  KABC in the afternoons/evenings/11pm has continued to lead for many many years. Once in a while KNBC will pull out a win in one of those slots but they are generally always a competitive #2. KCBS trails badly in mornings/afternoons/evenings where they fall even behind KTLA and KTTV in many time slots. KCBS is most competitive at 11pm but i think that's due to the strength of the cbs primetime lineup but they generally are still #3 or even #4 (behind KTLA) at 11. 

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With the caveat that I'm just a viewer and not in the business,  this is my take.  I'm old enough to remember the original "Big News"  with Jerry Dunphy on what used to be KNXT, now KCBS.

 

In an area where there is a lot of competition for eyes and ears,   local broadcast news still matters, though the numbers of people who watch are nothing like what they once were, and shrinking all the time.    KTLA 5  probably invests the most heavily in news, with the most hours and the biggest staff.  Channel 5  devotes much of its day and night to newscasts.  Its morning news block outdoes every other station in the ratings.  That Nextstar bought the station from Tribune a couple of years ago hasn't resulted in reductions as far as I can see.

 

Fox 11, KTTV,   has been kind of at sea for a few years, with new direction, especially in the morning, which has tried everything and everybody to find a way to cut into KTLA's numbers.  Fox 11 once ruled the mornings with a now-deposed team.  Except for the steady Tony McEwing,  people have been in and out in recent years.    10 pm still can boast Christine Devine,  a real gem.   Her deskmate  Elex Michaelson is a rarity, an anchor who is also a political reporter .  

 

KNBC 4 has changed little since the 1990s.   While the famous weather forecaster Fritz Coleman retired a while back,  main anchors Colleen Williams, Chuck Henry, and sportscaster Fred Roggin,  and much of the reporting staff,  have been together longer than the days when mastodons were still roaming the La Brea Tar Pits.  You'd never know it though,  they seem ageless and if any of them should retire or take a buyout,  I'm one who  would really miss them.  NBC 4 devotes a lot of time to advocacy stories, consumer, that kind of thing.

 

KABC, ABC 7, could probably run a newscast with an empty anchor desk and still rule the Nielsens.     With a few blips now and then,  they've been top ranked since the late 1970s.  They lose anchors to defection and retirement and simply reload and it's by default the station more people turn on when something big's happened,  fire, flood, earthquake, riot,  criminal activity.  It's been said that there's a certain snap and efficiency to "Eyewitness News,"  and I  agree.  They have a crack reporting staff and, even though the veteran anchor Michelle Tuzee retired last spring for health reasons,   they have a deep bench the Lakers wish they had.

 

CBS was called "The Tiffany Network."   What has been done to KCBS and KCAL is more like tin.   Viacom bought KCAL 9 in 2002 as a sister station to CBS 2 and to run prime-time news.  The duopoly once had a huge staff, with both Channels 2 and 9 with separate anchor teams, but  those days are gone.  CBS / Viacom has slashed budgets, laid off heritage anchors and reporters,  allowed others to plan their retirements.   The staff is about a third of what it was a few years ago, and evidently the network group is not much interested in what happens there, even amid reportedly low morale and a stubborn history of sexual harassment allegations.    CBS 2  / KCAL 9 is operating with a skeleton crew it seems, with Pat Harvey and Jim Hill the only remaining familiar names.   (reporter Michele Gile too)

 

As I say, I'm only a long time viewer, and anybody in the biz who reads all this, please don't hesitate to tell me he or she has another view of it.   Thanks for the time.

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Thanks for all the insight! I’ve definitely had folks & newscasts I’ve gravitated toward since getting here (Pat Harvey whenever she’s on 2 or 9, Colleen & Chuck on 4, KTLA in mornings & afternoons and checking out the half hour at 3 on 7) but it’s great to get a little history and an idea of the lay of the land. 
 

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