By Dan Trigoboff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/18/2001 7:00:00 PM
WOWK-TV/McGee suits settled
With a jury perhaps a day away from deliberation, former WOWK-TV Charleston, W. Va., anchor Tom McGee and former station owner Gateway Communications have settled their high-profile litigation. Both sides contend they are happy with the undisclosed settlement, which is believed to provide McGee with a cash payment and, he says, vindication.
In a highly publicized series of events last year, McGee was suspended and sued by station owner Gateway following weeks of discord. The company labeled him an overpaid and under-worked prima donna who displayed contempt for colleagues, using vulgar and sexually suggestive language. McGee countered with a $15 million suit charging the suspension and suit violated his contract and intentionally damaged his reputation.
That led to a trial, on claims from both parties, which lasted several days into last week. By settling, Gateway failed to establish a precedent for the performance expectations of a high-paid anchor—one reason the case was getting so much attention. But that should come as no surprise since, as Gateway attorney Niall Paul points out, the company is no longer in the television business. The station is now owned by SJL Northeast L.L.C.
A Paxson to exit TV
WWDP(TV) a full-power UHF station in the nation's No. 6 market, Boston, is for sale. Owner Devon Paxson, son of Lowell "Bud" Paxson, will be getting out of the business with the sale of his sole TV property. The station is expected to bring in more than $40 million, and sources say there is interest both inside and outside the market. The station is currently running Spanish-language programming under an LMA with Telemundo affiliate WTMU(TV). Brokering the deal is Media Services Group.
Dodgers moving to KCOP Los Angeles
In a homecoming of sorts, News Corp. is moving the Los Angeles Dodgers over to its newly acquired Los Angeles TV station, KCOP-TV, next season. The former Chris-Craft station has signed a three-year-deal for local broadcast rights.
Tribune-owned KTLA-TV Los Angeles had been the Dodgers' home for the past nine seasons. For the first 35 years that the team was in Los Angeles, the team's games were carried on Fox-owned KTTV-TV Los Angeles.
Sources say KCOP-TV, a UPN affiliate, will pay close to $8 million a year for 50 regular-season telecasts.
In contrast, baseball's biggest franchise, the New York Yankees, has dropped the number of its broadcast games over the past decade from about 75 when WPIX-TV carried the team a decade ago to about a third of that under a new deal with WCBS-TV. The Yankees' cable YES Network says it wants to be the primary source for the team.
Upfront and so very personal
The mix of politics with the personal lives of prominent broadcast journalists provides an ethical conundrum of increasing relevance—and one raised last week by print journalists in New Orleans.
At issue is the precise role a political spouse should play when that spouse also holds the highly public position of TV news reporter or anchor. In New Orleans, the issue was raised by a mayoral campaign commercial from City Councilman Troy Carter in which his wife, WDSU-TV anchor Melanie Sanders, heartily endorses Carter's candidacy. Political advisers, naturally, want to exploit the appeal and the savvy of the candidate's wife, but ethicists typically take the view that the more distance between them on the air, the better. Station officials did not return calls.
Times Picayune critic Dave Walker said last week that Sanders's role in the campaign—her maternity leave notwithstanding—"tramples the church-and-state ground rules separating journalists from the people they cover." Contrast this, he said, with WWL-TV anchor Michelle Miller, who was not even standing at the side of her husband Marc Morial when he lost his mayoral re-election bid.
Yet critic Allen Johnson, on BestofNewOrleans.com, noted that, even when Miller offers a detached, professional presentation of a story involving her husband, "one can't help but think Miller knew some inside scoop on last week's hot political story."
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who typically prefers talk radio to television, nonetheless took to the tube as part of a 90-minute discussion on terrorism, Minnesota Prepares: A Statewide Briefing, produced by Twin Cities Public Television.
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