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David Burke

Following a nationwide trend of smaller TV stations turning over their sales efforts to larger entities, WQAD-TV in Moline announced Friday that it will begin selling advertising time for WBQD-TV, also in Moline.

A low-power station, WBQD, Channel 26, signed on in July 2002 with programming from the UPN network.

"We're certainly here, we're someone that people in the market know," said Marion Meginnis, the president and general manager of WQAD, which is owned by the New York Times Co. "It's not an adjunct of WQAD, but we are a familiar face."

WBQD is one of four stations owned by Peoria, Ill.-based Four Seasons Broadcasting, a division of Los Angeles-based Venture Technologies Group. It is the company's third station to enter into a joint sales agreement.

"For our station … it allows us to have a partner who will help us not only financially, in the sense that they will be doing the sales, but it will also help us creatively to basically better serve the community in cross-promotion," Four Seasons president Paul Koplin said Friday from his office in Los Angeles. "It's an impact because New York Times sees us as a value."

WQAD will be adding one sales representative to its staff of six to concentrate solely on WBQD, Meginnis said, although other sales staff members will be able to sell time on the station.

WBQD had a two-person sales staff, including general manager Ron Johnson, Koplin said. Johnson, a Quad-City area broadcasting veteran, will be leaving the station shortly, Koplin said. He credited Johnson with getting the station running and pushing for a block of Hispanic-themed programming.

Although its broadcast signal is limited, WBQD is carried on cable companies in about 90 percent of the Quad-City region market. Muscatine, Iowa, is one of the few cable systems not carrying the station, Koplin said.

The joint sales agreement will allow the station to concentrate more on programming and promotion, he said. Besides UPN shows, the station carries the syndicated series "Access Hollywood" and "The Insider," as well as reruns of "The Cosby Show," "Becker" and "Star Trek: Voyager." WBQD also will carry University of Illinois basketball programming this winter.

"We had to grow a little bit faster," Koplin said. "We would rather build the programming and promotion from scratch than the sales from scratch."

David Burke can be contacted at (563) 383-2400 or dburke@qctimes.com.

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