March 5, 2004 | Palm Beach Post, The (FL)

 | Page: 8D | Section: BUSINESS
523 Words

WPTV-Channel 5, the NBC affiliate, maintained its stronghold in the market in the February sweeps ratings book, taking the top spot in prime time and local newscasts in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

The area's second-ranked station, CBS affiliate WPEC-Channel 12, made some gains in the period, while third-ranked WPBF-Channel 25, an ABC affiliate, continued to lose viewers, according to the rankings from Nielsen Media Research.

Brian Lawlor, WPTV's general manager, said he is very pleased with the station's dominance in its morning and evening newscasts. The station also saw strong ratings for its recently launched half-hour newscast at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The program had a rating of 5.4 on Saturday and 5.6 on Sunday.

"We have a 50-year history, and we continue to be as successful as we've ever been," he said.

For the 6 p.m. newscast, WPTV had a rating of 13.9, meaning an average of 98,591 of the market's 709,290 TV households watched the program. That's a decrease from 14.4 in February last year.

WPEC came in second with a rating of 7.9, up from 6.3 in the same period last year. WPBF saw its rating fall to 3.4, down from 4.9 in February 2003.

Doug Wolfmueller, general sales manager for WPEC, said the station had strong increases in viewership for its 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. newscasts. He attributed that to the station's new executive news director, Steve Hunsicker.

"There is a lot of energy in our news," Wolfmueller said. "We're happy we are going up and our network is extremely strong."

WPBF news director Joe Coscia referred calls Thursday to station manager Vicki Regan, who did not return calls seeking comment.

For the 11 p.m. news on weekdays, WPTV fell to 11.3, down from 11.6 last February. WPEC dropped to 8.7 from a 10.2, and WPBF dropped to a 4.4 from a 4.6.

In primetime, defined as 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, WPEC led the way with a 10.6, down from 11.6 last year. WPTV fell to 10.2 from 10.6 and WPBF rose to a 6.5, up from 6.2 last year.

The local Fox affiliate, WFLX-Channel 29, lost ground on its 10 p.m. newscast, falling to 4.5 from 6.2 last year. WFLX's newscast is produced by WPEC.

WTVX-Channel 34, a UPN affiliate, scored a primetime rating of 2.4 during the sweeps, up from 2.3 a year ago.

For the early morning newscast at 6 a.m., WPTV dropped to 7.2 from 7.9, followed by WPEC, which fell to a 3.3 from 3.9. WPBF slipped to .8. down from 1.8 a year ago.

February sweeps

Here are the ratings for the major networks' local newscasts during the most recent sweeps period:

Late newscasts

Feb. Feb.

Station 2004 2003 Change

WPTV 11.3 11.6 -0.3

WPEC 8.7 10.2 -1.5

WPBF 4.4 4.6 -0.2

WFLX * 4.5 6.2 -1.7

6 p.m. newscasts

Feb. Feb.

Station 2004 2003 Change

WPTV 13.9 14.4 -0.5

WPEC 7.9 6.3 +1.6

WPBF 3.4 4.9 -1.5


* Newscast at 10 p.m.

** WFLX does not have a 6 p.m. news broadcast

Source: Nielsen Media Research

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