|MEDIAWEEK TOP 50 MARKET PROFILES*|
The Hartford-New Haven television market is an unusual DMA because it's "bifurcated." The two cities, about 40 miles apart, are considered separate metro areas. Hartford-New Haven is the only bifurcated TV market that is metered by Nielsen.
Local TV and radio executives and media buyers must cope with signal spill-in from a host of stations in several neighboring markets, including New York; Boston; Springfield, Mass.; Providence; and Albany. Signal spill-in is of particular concern in radio because a number of high-powered New York stations easily penetrate Hartford and New Haven.
Nielsen ranks Hartford and New Haven 28th in the U.S., with 953,000 TV households. Meredith Corp.'s CBS affiliate, WFSB-TV, is the longtime leader in local evening news, but NBC O&O WVIT-TV dominated the 11 p.m. news race during last November's sweeps, according to Nielsen.
In addition to serving Hartford and New Haven, WFSB is the CBS affiliate for the Springfield, Mass., market. The station essentially has a split feed for Hartford-New Haven and Springfield, which allows it to air different commercials and different promo spots for each market. In February, WFSB and cable operator AT&T Media Services began a joint program offering advertisers spots in either DMA. A limited number of WFSB advertisers will still be able to buy the full coverage area.
In November 2000, WVIT overtook LIN Broadcasting's ABC affiliate, WTNH-TV, in 11 p.m. news for the first time, earning a 9.1 over WTNH's 8.8. WTNH's late-newscast rating has continued to plummet, earning a 5.1 last November. But the two stations remain neck-and-neck at 5 and 6 p.m.
Despite WVIT's gains in the New Haven area, Hank Yaggi, WTNH president and gm, noted that his station has a stronger following in the southern end of the state than its Hartford-based competitors. Yet Fairfield County, where WTNH counts many loyal news viewers, is part of the New York DMA; WTNH's audience there is not reflected in Nielsen's Hartford and New Haven data.
LIN Broadcasting has been expanding its presence in the market. With a local marketing agreement, LIN operates independently owned UPN affiliate WCTX-TV. Although WCTX has its own sales, marketing and promotions staffs, WTNH handles all technical aspects of running the station, including engineering and production. LIN has filed with the FCC to purchase WCTX outright under the relaxed federal duopoly regulations. WTNH has produced a half-hour 10 p.m. newscast on WCTX since April 2000.
WTXX-TV is the WB affiliate. Tribune Broadcasting acquired the station last year from Prospect, Conn.-based Tiberius Communications. Tribune also owns the market's Fox affiliate, WTIC-TV.
Privately held Telemundo affiliate WRDM-TV produces a half-hour Spanish-language local newscast at 6 p.m. weekdays. WRDM broadcasts 23 hours in Spanish and an hour in Italian (from 11 to midnight), also on weekdays.
Competition for Spanish-language viewers and advertisers began in December 2000, when Santa Monica, Calif.-based Entravision Communications acquired independent WHCT-TV. Entravision relaunched the station April 1 as a Univision affiliate with the call letters WUVN.
Cable penetration in the Hartford-New Haven DMA is a walloping 88 percent, the highest of any top-50 TV market in the country. AT&T has 32 percent of the market; Cox and Comcast hold the rest, though Cox handles the advertising for both companies.
The local interconnect, called Connecticut Cable Advertising, works with National Cable Communications' CableLink Interconnect to insert regional and national buys for all 22 operators in the state, or 100 percent of Connecticut cable homes. Thus, CCA and CableLink reach 902,000 cable households.
In radio, Arbitron classifies Hartford and New Haven as separate markets, ranked No. 46 and No. 101, respectively. Both cities' radio numbers have slipped of late. "It seems like radio has experienced the most slowdown in the market," said Ed Katz, a principal at ad agency Cashman & Katz in Glastonbury, Conn. "The 20 percent rate increases a year [radio has] seen have stopped abruptly."
Infinity Broadcasting controls the largest share of the Hartford market, with four stations (including three of the top five) and a 44 percent share of annual radio ad revenue. A year ago, Westwood One began nationally syndicating the 16-year-old Craig and Company morning show. The program, featuring Gary Craig, originates from Infinity's Modern Adult Contemporary WTIC-FM in Hartford. The company's Soft Adult Contemporary WRCH-FM, which is licensed in New Britain, Conn., was the market's top-ranked station last year, earning $13.2 million.
Marlin Broadcasting, which began simulcasting Rock station WCCC-FM on WCCC-AM a year ago, changed the AM's format to Classical. Prior to the format switch, Marlin launched Beethoven.com, a Web-only radio station, which is housed in the same Hartford facility as the two stations and is simulcast on WCCC-AM. (The radio station cuts away for local news and weather updates.)
Marlin's WCCC-FM, the market's top-ranked Rock outlet, competes against Clear Channel's Modern Rock WMRQ-FM. Clear Channel pulls strong earnings with its Top 40 WKSS-FM and with the market's only Country outlet, WWYZ-FM.
Hartford has a place in newspaper history as long as the Tribune-owned Hartford Courant is published -- it's the nation's oldest continuously published paper. Its circulation decreased 1.9 percent weekdays, to 198,651, and 1.8 percent Sundays, to 291,111, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The Courant and WTIC, also owned by Tribune, regularly cross-promote their stories, and last fall the two outlets began offering combined ad packages on a limited basis.
The Courant publishes nine locally zoned editions. "This market has a real appetite for local news, so you have to zone to stay competitive," said Lou Golden, Courant vice president and deputy publisher.
In a cost-cutting move last fall, the Courant eliminated 22 positions, primarily in the advertising and circulation departments. Nine workers were laid off and 13 were offered other positions at the paper; about half of those accepted the reassignments.
The Courant has been busy increasing its market reach through acquisitions of other local papers. In April 1999, the paper purchased New Mass Media's five free weeklies in the region: the Hartford Advocate, the New Haven Advocate, Fairfield County Weekly, Valley Advocate and Westchester County (N.Y.) Weekly. The papers have a combined circulation of more than 790,000.
Journal-Register Corp.'s New Haven Register is the second-largest daily in Connecticut, with daily circulation that remained flat, at 100,108, and decreased 4 percent Sundays, to 100,273, according to ABC records through Sept. 30, 2001. The Register publishes six zoned editions daily. Journal-Register also publishes 22 weekly newspapers in the region.
The out-of-home advertising business has created a controversy in the market. Atlanta-based Granite State Outdoor Advertising is looking to erect a dozen billboards, up to 70 feet high, on private property along busy U.S. 1 in the towns of Orange and Milford, both in the New Haven area, and in Stamford. Granite State has filed federal lawsuits against the municipalities after its applications were denied. The suits seek to have the local zoning ordinances declared unconstitutional.
-- Eileen Davis Hudson and Aimee Deeken