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Without Curt Fonger, Channel 12’s Ratings Dive

Palm Beach

Without Curt Fonger, Channel 12’s Ratings Dive

There’s good news, and bad news for WPEC-Channel 12.

The WPEC set

The good news is that bankrupt Freedom Communications officially relinquishes control of the CBS affiliate to the Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Dec. 1.

The bad: Sinclair takes over Channel 12 as it sinks to historically low ratings in the first sweeps period without  anchorman Curt Fonger, which station managers decided not to re-sign after 22 years.

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According to preliminary statistics for the all-important November ratings period, which sets advertising prices into next year, Channel 12 is a dreadful No. 3 in all news time-slots — except at 5:30 a.m., where it barely hung on to the No. 2 position.

Click here to see the ratings

At 6 p.m., prime local-news time, Channel 12’s Liz Quirantes and Fonger’s replacement, Eric Roby, get less than one third the audience of WPTV-Channel 5, the undisputed market leader on retiring anchorman Jim Sackett‘s last month at work.

While it is estimated that an average 48,000 households between Boca Raton and Vero Beach tune in to CBS 12, more than 160,000 tune in to NBC affiliate WPTV!

And at 11 p.m., despite solid programming from CBS with lead-in shows like CSI: Miami and The Mentalist, many viewers abandon the station during the news.

Fonger

In that time slot, WPEC officials have left Quirantes, Fonger’s former partner,  anchoring by herself on weeknights — an unprecedented cost-cutting measure in local television.

With Tiffany Kenney and Victor Blackwell, ABC affiliate WPBF-Channel 25 is now solidly second in audience preference for the first time in its 23-year history.

WPEC News Director Cathy Younkin, whose job it is to make sure that newscasts appeal to the public, didn’t return a call for comment.

Fonger wouldn’t comment about his old station’s fall but said: “I wish my ex-colleagues well!”

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