Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Kaut Enjoys Success with Fox Broadcasting

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Kaut Enjoys Success with Fox Broadcasting

Article excerpt

Once teetering on the brink of becoming a second-string educational station, KAUT Channel 43 is enjoying newfound success in its relationship with Fox Broadcasting Co.

"We're back up to strength," said Harlan Reams, who is in his second year as general manager at KAUT. "Our ratings have swung back, and we're one of few stations in this market showing any growth."

KAUT, owned by Heritage Media Corp. of Dallas, enjoyed its best year ever in local advertising sales in 1987. But by October 1988, sales had slumped badly amid speculation that Channel 43 was about to become the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority's second station in the Central Oklahoma market. A proposal was on the table that would have seen the sale of KAUT, along with Oklahoma City independent stations KOKH-25 and KGMC-34, in a $30 million deal backed by California broadcaster Harry Pappas.

The deal fell through when KGMC's owner, Oklahoma City Broadcasting Co., filed for bankruptcy nearly a year ago.

KAUT remained independent under Heritage and Fox, and damage from the plummeting revenues was controlled when 16 of the station's 38 employees transferred to other Heritage-owned stations.

Still, a cloud remained over KAUT because of financial losses at Fox.

Richard Sarazen, chief financial officer of Rupert Murdoch's four-year-old network, reportedly said in June 1988 that Fox was within six months of shutting down if business did not improve.

It did improve, thanks to some daring new programs and a writers strike that forced ABC, CBS, and NBC to air re-runs.

"A Fox franchise is becoming a very valuable commodity for a station," Reams said. "Heritage also realizes the value of a Fox affiliation. I've got a corporation behind me that is comprised of business people first, and broadcasters second. We are not treated as just another independent."

Fox helps KAUT to save money, and to make money, Reams said.

"Any time Fox programs time on my station, that's time I don't have to program, and that saves a lot. It reduces my inventory for sale, but Fox programs generate the higher ratings - and higher advertising rates."

Fox programs run only nine hours a week, all in prime-time. Channel 43 carries 30 hours of movies per week, 30 hours of cartoons and 10 hours of re-runs. Daytime hours feature standard fare including courtroom and game shows.

Reams said the larger prime-time audiences tuning in to Fox network programs enhances Channel 43's ability to promote the programs and movies it runs in other time slots. …

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