If you notice sparks flying from your television set between Channels 8 and 4 these days… the set is okay. It’s just the hotter than blazes ratings war going strong ever since KDFW bit into WFAA’s five-year monopoly on metroplex news ratings.
The Arbitron ratings for February show KDFW has jumped from third to first place in a year at the prime time 10 p.m. news slot. Channel 4 is boasting a 20 rating and 34 per cent share, compared to an 18 rating and a 31 per cent share at Channel 8. Poor KXAS is lagging behind the two at 10 p.m. with 12 points and 21 per cent.
It all means bigger profits for Channel 4 when the salesmen sell advertising time. And while the lead may be no more than a horse’s nose, it’s been enough to force WFAA into doctoring up its broadcasts.
WFAA news director, Marty Haig, insists the format of his shows hasn’t changed. And he says the station is still committed to hard news above all.
But Channel 8’s shows are looking flashier these days. There are more “video teases” to tempt viewers with what’s coming up after the commercial. There’s music, more anchor-narrated stories, and more on-camera chatter between Tracy Rowlett and Iola Johnson.
In fact, Channel 8 is beginning to look more like Channel 4, although Haig denies it. He says they have always wanted to use more effects, but have only recently acquired the equipment to do it.
The two stations have also traded some high level personnel, although both insist no snatching was involved.
Channel 8 has hired Channel 4’s former 10 o’clock producer, Rick Thompson, to do the same job. And Channel 4 has hired reporter Barbara White to co-anchor weekends with Quin Mathews.
KDFW news director, Bob Henry, says Ms. White approached them because she wanted to anchor and wasn’t getting the opportunity to do so at 8.