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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Olympics give ratings edge to KHNL news

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

For the first time in almost two decades, Joe Moore of KHON isn't king of the late-night news ratings. In the just-out Nielsen survey, KHNL's10 p.m. news — fueled by NBC coverage of the Winter Olympics — snagged Olympic gold, beating No. 1 anchor Moore by a single rating point.

Joe Moore still holds the top spot at 6 p.m.

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"There's no question in my mind that the Olympics provided incredible lead-in to our newscast," said a jubilant John Fink, vice president and general manager of NBC affiliate KHNL.

"Enough people stayed with us to provide victory in total viewership at 10 p.m.," said Fink of the February sweeps. KHNL is still the new kid on the news block, fielding a news department for only five years.

Historically, Moore has persevered even through Olympics marathons; when CBS (KGMB, channel 9) carried the Olympics in 1998 and '94, Moore ruled at 10 p.m.

Howard Dashefsky, who co-anchors the KHNL 10 o'clock news, was thrilled about toppling the Fox affiliate, acknowledging the drawing power of Olympic fever. Until the recent Olympics, KHNL — which has such popular lead-in shows as "Law and Order" on Wednesdays and "ER" on Thursdays — had been unable to maintain that lead-in viewership to swell its news figures.

Moore, who still rules at 6 p.m. although he has dropped three ratings points since the November survey, said: "The mark of a real winner is not being No. 1 once, but repeatedly. And we'll be No. 1 next May."

He added: "Ratings are for sales and advertising people; they don't care how the ratings are achieved."

Dashefsky, who sits alongside Jodi Leong at KHNL's anchor desk, had some apprehensions going into the February sweeps.

"I think we capitalized on the viewership with the possibility that a lot of people might have sampled us for the first time," he said. "The bottom line: there were a lot of eyeballs on the Olympics, and we've shown some forward growth."

The Nielsen survey is TV's way of gauging viewership. Affiliates use the rankings to set advertising rates. Community viewing habits are monitored every February, May and December.

Since ascending to the pinnacle about two decades ago, Moore has been unbeatable, till now. To his credit, his station — previously the NBC outlet, but now a Fox affiliate — has not had the traditional bonus of a hot prime-time series leading into the late news.

In recent months, KHNL has shown increasing strength at 10 p.m., while all other stations, including KITV (ABC) and KGMB (CBS), have been losing viewers. With this ranking, KHNL has become a player in the marketplace.

"I'm not surprised by the numbers," said Mike Rosenberg, general manager of ABC affiliate KITV. "All over the country, NBC affiliates came in No. 1 during the Olympics."

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