By Darrell Morrow Feature Editor The consolidation of Oklahoma City independent television stations KAUT-TV Fox 43 and KOKH-TV 25 last week marked a rare occasion, a reduction in the Oklahoma commercial television market.
It is a move anticipated to shift ratings and market share in the metropolitan broadcast market. The buyout is the first step in positioning to perhaps eventually place an independent Oklahoma City television station into serious market competition with the top row major network affiliate stations.
The consolidation was achieved like clockwork without a skipped beat in broadcasting, although some viewers may have been searching through the shuffled schedule for favorite programs a day or two, said Harlan Reams, general manager of the merged station.
The staff, equipment, operating files and records of KAUT-TV 43 were merged into the studios of KOKH-TV, now Fox 25, to conclude the $7.5 million acquistion of KOKH-TV from Gillette Broadcasting of Oklahoma Inc.
by Heritage Media Corp. of Dallas. KAUT-TV 43 became a second station for the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority.
"It went very smooth. Pre-planning, as much as we could even though our hands were tied a little bit, worked well. There were very few surprises. Now, we are just looking to get all the boxes put away and get up to speed for fourth quarter, where 30 percent of the revenue of a television station comes in," he said.
"It is a very important quarter, especially with us in the kids'
business. We are the dominant kids' station with Warner Bros., Fox and Turtles. We will do a tremendous amount of business in the fourth quarter with kids," Reams said.
Thirty members of the old KAUT Fox 43 staff who moved to the KOKH-TV Fox 25 operation were supplemented by the permanent hiring of 16 members of the KOKH staff and the temporary hiring of five others for 30 days. Full staff of the station is now 46, Reams said.
The station did not retain 19 other KOKH employees. Among those who were no longer needed in the new operation were news staff and business staff members, except for the controller, he said.
"For the most part, it has gone very smooth. I think I have an excellent team," Reams said.
Reception to the change has been generally good from the public and advertisers, he said.
"It has been received well, for the most part, especially by the advertisers. They realize that it is going to be good for the community to have five healthy stations. Five has got to be healthier than six in the market.
"The fact that we did what we said we were going to do, I think, probably impresses them more than anything," Reams said.
The Harry Pappas buyout proposal that failed three years ago left advertisers skeptical until the changeover came last week, he said.
"So, we've had a very positive acceptance from the advertising community, and I believe the viewers will be pleasantly surprised with the combination of programs we will be airing. There is also another viewing alternative for the viewers on The Literacy Channel 43. They have Sesame Street at 7 p.m., never before seen that late at night.
"I don't necessarily want a kids' audience at 7 p.m. That's when I want an adult audience, so I am not really losing anything. I think Oklahoma, once it (the station) is settled down, will benefit. …