School of Journalism
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
THE PROMOTION PROBLEM *
How Should KXZP-TV Position and Promote Its News?
KXZP-TV, an ABC affiliate on channel 6, in a top-30 market
(metered), was stuck in second place for its early and late news. The NBC
affiliate, KSJV-TV, was number one in prime time, late fringe, and in both
late (10:00-10:35 p.m.) and early (6:00-6:30 p.m.) news. KXZP's early
news, although in second place, was close to KSJV's early news. KXZP's
late news was usually two or three rating points behind KSJV's.
KXZP was the only television station in the market to program a
half-hour newscast at 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Both newscasts were beaten
in the ratings and demos by syndicated programs on the other stations, but
the ratings were respectable and highly salable. "Oprah" led into the
4:00 p.m. newscast, which was second in its time period, and "Jeopardy"
led into the 5:00 p.m. newscast, which was followed by ABC's network news.
"Wheel of Fortune," in prime access, lead out of the 6:00 p.m. newscast.
KXZP also had a one-hour newscast at 12:00 noon, which was number one in
its time period, and had been for years. KXZP ran a local news program
from 6:00-7:00 a.m., which was number one in its time period.
KXZP had a strong local news and community service image. Its
approach to news was conservative, straightforward, journalistically
sound, non-sensational. It attempted to be the Journal of Record in local
news, and was generally perceived to be so by the audience, as confirmed
by research conducted by AR&D, its news consultant.
KXZP had excellent, arresting graphics, a new and attractive set,
and more remote equipment than the other stations. It consistently did
more live shots than the other stations.
KXZP also had the best known weatherperson in the market, Joe
Edwards. Joe was a native of the city and had been in the market and on
KXZP for 35 years. He was an expert on tornados, and regularly showed up
in locations where tornados hit and led fund-raising relief efforts.
All of KXZP's anchors were also natives of the city and well known
(they tested extremely well--only one anchor at KSJV did better). The
anchors were mature, bright, good journalists, and cooperative. The main
anchor, a white male, did the 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts. His
co-anchor on the 10:00 p.m. was a white female, and on the 5:00 and 6:00 a
black female, who also did the 4:00 p.m. alone. The two female anchors
tested very well, especially the black female. Only one of KSJV's three
main anchors were natives of the city.
KXZP's sports anchor was the play-by-play announcer for the state
university's football team (a perennial top-ten team), was well known and
popular with the station's core male audience.
KXZP had developed several well known franchises, the best-known
of which was "Consumer Watch." The reporter who did "Consumer Watch" was
an excellent investigative reporter. She had won several national awards
and was regularly sited in newspaper columns for excellent reporting.
Legislation had been passed in the state as a result of a few of her
reports. KXZP's "Health Watch" segment featured a local doctor, who had
become a popular celebrity in the market. The news director of KXZP was
considering adding a "Legal Watch" segment featuring a local attorney
who had become well known during the station's coverage of the O. J.
Simpson and Timothy McVeigh trials.
AR&D had recommended featuring local business news in KXZP's early
morning news program, although the news director had not made a decision
KXZP had positioned its news as "NewsCenter 6" and "Six On Your
Side" for years. The station ran a schedule of half topical promotions and
half image promotions that emphasized the anchors and the "Six On Your
Side" slogan. Little or no attention was given to the news franchises.
Two years ago, KSJV, on the advice of its news consultant, Frank
Magid & Associates, used the positioning statement "Where News Comes
First." KSJV hit the slogan hard in its newscasts and in promos. KSJV's
topical promos (that's the only kind of promotion they did) were fast,
glitzy, and continually reinforced the station's "action news"
approach--sensational, tabloid, "if-it-bleeds-it-leads."
The news director of KXZP was unhappy with being in second place
in her most important newscasts and with the overall news promotion
effort. She agreed with AR&D, which had indicated that KXZP had a
While the incidents in this case are not factual, they do
represent a composite of actual conditions and operating practices of some
companies. This case was prepared to use as a teaching tool.
1. Brainstorm and come up with solutions to the "promotion problem."
New positioning statement
New, promotable franchises
New promotion scheduling strategy
* This case was prepared by Charles WarnerBack to the Case Studies Index