But don’t look too much into this. It’s not likely Hearst-Argyle will break with NBC anytime soon. This is not 1980, when affiliates were leaving NBC in droves because of weak ratings for weak primetime shows. Many Hearst-Argyle stations are still strong in news (like WBAL in Baltimore), and the stations are expected to reap a huge windfall thanks to the upcoming political season.
Plus, other factors have hit both television and radio hard, including decreases in spending in the auto category, plus the mortgage prime lending crisis and falling home sales have hit the economy hard, particularly in Chicago.
Keep in mind that CBS got hit hard in 1994 when eight New World stations switched to Fox. And CBS was the number one network in the 1993-94 season when that announcement came down.