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Albany, N.Y.—Hubbard's WNYT(TV) has stepped back from a planned lockout of about 90 full- and part-time station employees represented by NABET-CWA.
The station had lined up replacement workers—the contract was scheduled to expire Oct. 1—after the union didn't agree to a written contract extension, according to VP/GM Steve Baboulis. But Baboulis said he got a verbal agreement that there would be no strike or other anti-station activity so long as the talks were scheduled "pretty soon." The new dates for resumed negotiations are Oct. 16 and 17. The union employees include on-air, engineers, news producers, directors.
Baboulis would not discuss the details of the negotiations but said the issues include pay, wage scales, jurisdiction and seniority.
Washington—According to Nielsen's Jack Loftus, WJLA-TV reduced its hurricane-coverage promo from 30 to 15 seconds last weekend and removed the viewership claims that had Nielsen crying foul (B&C, Sept. 29, p. 3). It has since stopped airing the promo altogether, he said, adding, "We will certainly note the activity in the October [ratings] report." But Nielsen probably will not further investigate the leak of ratings information that led to the newspaper story on WJLA-TV's performance that was incorporated into the promo.
Billings, Mont.—Virginia Beach, Va.-based Max Media is buying KULR-TV Billings and KFBB-TV Great Falls, both Montana. The company already owns KGTF(TV) Great Falls, and the market is too small to allow duopolies, so it will either have to sell one or the other Great Falls station, seek a waiver, or hope the FCC loosens its duopoly rules significantly. CFO David Wilhelm isn't sure which it will do. Max Media closed last week on its purchase of WGTU(TV) Traverse City, Mich., and is buying Sunair Radio, a group of central Pennsylvania stations.
San Francisco—It's beginning to look a lot like Great American Toy Test time. KTVU(TV) San Francisco is again packaging a six-part series on toy safety and play value for stations across the country. With various manufacturers donating the toys, Southwest Airlines paying for shipping, U-Haul donating the boxes and Energizer inserting the batteries, participating stations just need to find the kids and supply the B-Roll and some interviews.
Great American Toy Test Producer Sharon Navratil has been packing up toys and evaluation sheets, buoyed by the news that the campaign has been nominated for a National Public Service and Community Emmy. About 100 toys are shipped to daycare or after-care centers in each station's market for evaluation and rating. The schools get to keep the toys. KTVU tabulates the results and produces a top-10 or -15 list. The campaign is market-exclusive, with price depending on market size. The series will be delivered in time for a Thanksgiving Week sweeps airing.
New York—Rebecca Spitz, Manhattan reporter for New York 1, Time Warner's New York cable news station, remained in critical but stable condition at press time last week after being struck by a van while on assignment in Harlem. According to NY1 spokesman Ed Pachetti, she had just finished shooting a story, about the discovery of a DOA baby, when she was hit by the van's side mirror and rushed to St. Luke's hospital. She sustained multiple skull fractures and brain swelling and was put on a ventilator. The driver was not charged.
KYW-TV Philadelphia teamed with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation on cancer-awareness campaign Lights for the Cure. Beginning Oct. 1 and continuing throughout the month, 40 Philadelphia buildings and landmarks will light their exteriors pink "as a reminder to remain vigilant" against the disease. The station will also air breast-cancer-related news stories and PSAs throughout the month.