Monday, June 13, 2005


Report: Viacom Merging Two Stations

From MSNBC.COM: Viacom, the new owner of KOVR-13, is spending $6.5 million to move its Sacramento station, KMAX-Channel 31, into the KOVR building across the river.

And more changes are in the works: uoyed by his recent success attracting Spanish-language viewers to Channel 31's "Good Morning Sacramento," Bruno Cohen, general manager of both stations, says he'll try to add similar translations to Channel 13's local news and to Channel 31's broadcasts of Giants and A's baseball games. "Why not?" says Cohen, noting that nearly one-quarter of households in the regional TV market speak Spanish. "We can't get this thing done at Channel 13 fast enough."

In about three years, Cohen wants to move his stations again, and join six local radio stations owned by Infinity Broadcasting, in one new building on the K Street Mall. Viacom owns Infinity.
The venture would create a major downtown attraction, give visitors a look at broadcasts in glassed-in studios and bring new life to a stagnant part of the mall, he says. It resembles a failed idea for a California cable news network once proposed for the same location, but Cohen believes this different project could work.

Viacom is buying digital broadcasting equipment at the 50,000-square-foot Channel 13 studio just off Reed Avenue to accommodate both stations. The company will also pay for tenant improvements to 7,000 square feet in an unused part of the building. Once those changes are made by year's end, the 140 staffers at KMAX will join the 140 employees already working in the building for Channel 13, Cohen says.

Cohen came to Sacramento a year ago to run Channel 31, after heading CNBC's business news department in New York City. Last autumn he introduced some innovations at the local UPN affiliate. He introduced a "megamap," a 40-by-50-foot map of the area that the station rolls out in the rear parking for offbeat weather and traffic updates.

Cohen says he's working with Sacramento developer David Taylor and city officials on the possibility of a getting the TV and radio stations into a new building at K and 10th streets, where the city-owned Woolworth's building now stands. The new building would have up to five stories, with mixed uses, and would have to accommodate modern broadcast studios employing about 400 people. Cohen thinks this plan can work. "I'd love to do that," he says of the K Street idea. "Conceptually, everybody's on board."

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