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Heat, Fires Boost Local News Ratings

KNBC Channel 4’s extended news coverage of the fires raging throughout the Southland Wednesday paid off in big ratings, according to figures released Thursday by the A.C. Nielsen Co. The fires and oppressive heat also helped KCAL Channel 9 score its highest ratings since the station debuted a three-hour prime-time newscast last March.

KNBC won every half-hour time period from 6:30 to 8 p.m. with its fire coverage, beating regularly scheduled network news, sitcom reruns and “Love Connection” on the other stations. At 7 p.m., when KABC Channel 7 joined Channel 4 in preempting regular programming for reports from the front lines of the fires, the two stations combined to grab 30% of all those watching television at that time.

At 7:30 p.m., when KNBC was the only local station supplying news coverage, nearly 450,000 homes tuned in. Two nights before, its regularly scheduled “Hard Copy” drew only 241,000 homes.

Meanwhile, the rising heat helped KCAL double its usual ratings level for its three-hour newscast. Its 10 p.m. broadcast, generally last among the four independent newscasts in this time period, finished a strong second to KTLA Channel 5.

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