Friday, March 31, 2006

Bend Becoming Its Own Media Market?

Courtesy of the Ridenbaugh Press, a great blog-and-other-stuff site featuring noted Idaho journalist Randy Stapilus, some slowly developing news about the possible expansion of network TV affiliates into Central Oregon:
KTVZ-TV, which has been an affiliate of NBC, long has been the only important TV player there. Bend residents get the other nets from their Portland affiliates via satellite or cable. The only other local Bend station is KFXO-FOX, a Fox affiliate without local news. KTVZ for years has been walloping it, taking about 84%-16% of local viewership in the ratings.

But on April 17 KFXO is planning to launch local news, which should increase their share somewhat.

Maybe more significantly, Chambers Communications Corporation of Eugene (which runs KEZI9 ABC - Eugene, KDKF31 ABC - Klamath Falls, and KDRV12 ABC - Medford) was reported as planning a new station - presumably, given its other assets, an ABC affiliate - for Bend. If that happens, can CBS be far behind?
It may seem a little esoteric, but I'd wager the existence of a full slate of local TV stations can have a galvanizing effect on a city, especially in a region growing like Bend is. If you watch Portland stations, think about the last time you saw a story on Bend or Redmond or Sisters. Now think of one that didn't involve a homicide or disappearance or major fire (or ski conditions). While I certainly cannot hold up TV journalism as the sine qua non of a city's civic growth, anything that supports the idea of Bend as its own viable region instead of "Not Portland/Not Eugene" is probably a positive. The Oregon Central High Desert--your nation's 196th TV market...and climbing!