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Ch. 10's non-broadcast beats competitors


Just how difficult is it for the competitors of Channel 10 to overcome the perennial ratings leader in local TV news?

So much so that WJAR still beat the combined ratings of Channels 6 and 12, for the period between 6:45 and 7 AM this past Wednesday -- even though the NBC station's on-air personnel had left the set due to what turned out to be a false fire alarm.

Channel 10 scored a 5.1 for that rating period, while 6 and 12 got a combined 4.7. The typical recent ratings for the same period are 7 for WJAR, 2 for WPRI, and 1 for WLNE, according to Channel 10 GM Lisa Churchville.

"It just tells you what a tough, competitive environment it is," says Stephen Doerr, GM of WLNE-TV (Channel 6), which has plans to beef up its morning report. "I give them credit for being as well-entrenched as they are." In effect, notes Doerr, WJAR's viewers waited for morning anchor Frank Coletta to return to the set for 15 minutes.

This video shows Coletta finishing a report as the fire alarm can be heard in the background. He says:

"We might be back in just a moment -- there's some kind of alarm going off in the building -- or we might not. If we're not back, we'll put something else on the air to keep you updated on the news. Stay tuned [chuckle]. This should be interesting."

The news report was replaced with a graphic indicating a temporary delay in coverage at WJAR, which has long benefited from being the first TV station in Rhode Island.

Jay Howell, GM of Channel 12, couldn't be reached for immediate comment.

Churchville says TV viewers have a general inclination to stick with a station even if it goes blank on rare occasions. She also attributed the situation to how 10's morning broadcast serves as a lead-in for the popular Today show. WJAR is supposed to use a feed from MSNBC if its own programming is unavailable, but the fire alarm didn't leave time to make the necessary switch, she says.

Then again, says a source at the station, "It's an indication of how tough it's going to be to knock Channel 10 out of first place."

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