Unexperienced Gillett Predicts Few Changes as Owner of Kokh-TV

Article excerpt

Gillett Broadcasting Inc. of California is known for its network stations, so they are "babes in the woods" when it comes to operating an independent, said George Gillett Jr., president.

Gillett is purchasing KOKH-TV, the pioneer independent television station in Oklahoma City, from John Blair & Co. The station is part of a package of three being acquired for $86 million in cash.

KOKH will be Gillett's second independent station. The company also owns 11 other network affiliate stations and an independent in Richmond, Va., that was purchased within the last two months.

The philosophy of KOKH - since it was purchased from the Oklahoma City Public Schools by John Blair in 1979 - has remained family oriented, with programming chosen by the viewers.

The station has built a reputation for public service exemplified by its news department, atypical of an independent, and by special programs dealing with community oriented subjects. The station was a host to political debates during the past political campaigns and airs a program hosted by Oklahoma City Mayor Andrew Coats.

Gillett said his company believes in market research and reflecting the taste and preference of the communities served.

"We don't try to tell them what we think," he said, "or what they ought to be watching.

"Without having done the research yet, it is difficult to anticipate anything. We have confidence in the management and personnel. They have excellent programming."

Gillett said he did not expect the company will make many changes in the first three to six months after the takeover.

"The changes will come from within the station," he said. "Our style one in which we like to work with people who are there and the Blair group has excellent people."

The sale still awaits the approval of the FCC. James L. Harmeyer, general manager of the station, said he doesn't foresee any problems with approval of the sale.

"Gillett is very good operator," he said.

Over the past year, KOKH management has worked harder to purchase first run products and television premieres, Harmeyer said. The station is "actively pursuing good family programming," he added, enhancing its lineup with the addition of the Wonderful World of Disney, among other shows.

Harmeyer said the station has always tried innovative programming, such as Live Aid, and tested new products, rather than picking up whatever syndicated properties are available. …