June 1, 2004

WFAA-TV wins sweeps, remains Dallas-Fort Worth's most-watched local news station

Dallas, TX -- Once again WFAA-TV won in the major local news races during May sweeps in the Dallas-Fort Worth marketplace. As has become customary in the market, WFAA was again the most watched television station sign-on to sign-off.

"Our mission during May, as it is 365 days a year, was to offer viewers complete coverage of news of the day," said Kathy Clements, WFAA president and general manager. "Our investigative team was hard at work, and we followed the local sports teams in playoff mode. We also experienced some severe weather in May, which is always a great strength in terms of News 8 coverage. I am proud of the effort of the staff."

Some of the reports from News 8 Investigates during May included: a probing look inside questions surrounding Federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials allegedly turning a blind eye to informants' participation in murders in Juarez/El Paso; Dallas high school coaches who have obtained advanced degrees from questionable universities; and revealed new details on how a dental clinic overmedicated its patients and pulled unnecessary teeth just so its workers could receive bonuses.

When it came to the big stories in May, News 8 had them first. WFAA first reported the Dallas city manager's decision to retire; the identity of the new Police Chief; and was also the first station in the country to get an interview with the Halliburton worker who escaped from his Iraqi captors.

"These are important stories and serious investigations; we believe it is our duty as responsible journalists working in the interest of our viewers to report these kinds of stories, particularly when the other local stations in Dallas-Fort Worth have all but given up on investigative journalism," said vice president/news, David Duitch.

For 17 straight May sweeps, WFAA has won the 5 and 6 p.m. time periods according to A.C. Nielsen's (NSI) May 2004 overnight household ratings. Clements called this "an enormous accomplishment," and one that is "unlikely duplicated in any major US television market."

"It is unique to remain so dominant in two significant time periods for so long," said Clements. "These wins at 5 and 6, as well as a strong showing in other time slots, including wins with News 8 Midday, Oprah, ABC World News Tonight, Wheel of Fortune, Dale Hansen's Sports Special and more says a lot about the continued strength of the WFAA brand, especially where news is concerned."

News 8 broadcasts at 5 and 6 p.m. virtually dominated the market's early evening, local news time periods. News 8 at 5 p.m. topped the market with a 6.4 rating and a 13 share once again making it the most-watched early evening newscast in Dallas-Fort Worth. WFAA's audience share at 5 p.m. doubles the audience of local CBS-owned television station.

"For well over a year now the team of Jeff Brady and Macie Jepson have successfully anchored the 5 p.m. newscast," said Clements.

For the market, WFAA's lead at 5 p.m. over the next closest station is by 51,000 households. In the D-FW market each rating point equals 22,560 households.

WFAA's 6 p.m. news broadcast won the time slot again with a 7.4/14. This sweeps also marks seventeen consecutive years of wins at 6 p.m. The anchor team of Gloria Campos and John McCaa, who also anchor the station's 10 p.m. newscast, remains the market leader by a good margin. In fact, News 8 at 6 p.m. outperforms the local NBC affiliate's number by 35%, beats FOX's share of the local news audience by 51% and is 124% greater than the local CBS station's audience for the time period. This translates to nearly 44,000 more households than the closest competitor.

Monday through Friday, WFAA's News 8 Update at 10 p.m. posted an 8.1/13. The station's late news improved on its network lead-in 11 nights during sweeps, while the CBS news station improved on only two nights dropping from an average of an 18 share lead-in to a 13.

"The fact that WFAA increases audience more times than not--that is a statistic the market has gotten used to," said Clements. "Other stations fall off, while WFAA increases."

Clements said it is worth note that NBC and CBS network prime time programming in the market is up 6% and 14% respectively over a year ago, while ABC remains challenged, down 5% from 2003 and 20% from February 2004.

"ABC's recent programming struggles certainly present us with a challenge," said Clements. "We begin from a much lower starting point than some of the other affiliates in the market when it comes to lead-in programming. Everyone knows that a strong network lead-in is a huge boost in driving the number of a late local newscast. The station that has the highest lead in the market, a 50% share advantage over WFAA, we tie them at 10 p.m. That speaks to the loyalty that viewers have for WFAA."

The station was recently honored with a prestigious Sidney Hillman Foundation Television Award for "State of Denial," a stinging News 8 Investigates look inside the workers' compensation system in Texas amid growing evidence of corruption mounting within a system in crisis.

The Hillman Foundation singled out the report as work that "represents the best tradition of journalism for the public good--journalists who doggedly pursue serious flaws in a system designed to protect the most vulnerable citizens. It also represents a local news station committed to serious journalism, not just sensationalism. (Brett) Shipp, (Mark) Smith and (Kraig) Kirchem at WFAA have given a voice to the viewers they serve, exposed blatant injustice and galvanized the reform movement of the workers' compensation system."


Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has recognized journalists, writers and public figures that pursue social justice and public policy for the common good. Annual awards are given in the categories including books, newspaper and magazine reporting, film and broadcast journalism and photojournalism. Other 2004 Hillman honorees include The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Frontline and The New Yorker.

About WFAA-TV
WFAA-TV is part of Belo Corp., one of the nation's largest media companies with a diversified group of market-leading television, newspaper, cable and interactive media assets. A Fortune 1000 company with approximately 7,900 employees and $1.4 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates news and information franchises in some of America's most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Based in Dallas, Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 16 markets) reaching 13.8 percent of U.S. television households; owns or operates nine cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo publishes four daily newspapers: The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo Interactive's new media businesses include more than 30 Web sites, several interactive alliances, and a broad range of Internet-based products. For more information, contact David Muscari, vice president/strategic alliances at 214.977.6490. Additional information, including earnings releases, is available online at www.belo.com.