KDKA-TV and CBS last week acknowledged that the station
compressed part of the Oct. 14 broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers-Kansas City Chiefs game to squeeze in extra commercials.
That story was first reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but it may
just be the tip of the iceberg.
CBS said it was unauthorized and that the practice had stopped.
But they are declining comment on allegations made to TV Fax that KDKA-TV and
other CBS-owned stations have been regularly compressing prime time programming
to fit in more spots.
Reliable sources say that group management has given at least tacit approval
to the practice for the past two years.
Former CBS employees said other CBS-owned stations have used compression to
squeeze in more spots, usually in highly rated programs, but added it is not
done all the time or at all group stations.
The compression in the game-during half time and into the third quarter-was
brought to light by fans who were watching the TV broadcast while listening to
the game on Clear Channel's WDVE-FM.
CBS affiliates were upset following the discovery that an owned station could
alter network programming when an affiliated one would be severely chastised by
the network for such actions.
Ray Deaver, general manager at KWTX-TV Waco, Tex., And head of the CBS
affiliate board, said he planned to raise
the issue with the network.
The revelation may also draw the ire of advertisers whose spots have been
speeded up-if only minutely and undetectably-and put into more crowded ad
Competitors in the Pittsburgh market say they have monitored KDKA-TV in prime
time and concluded that the station has used compression to gain a competitive
edge of two-to-four spots during prime time on several nights.
Each such spot could bring in $2,000-$5,000. A spot in a Steelers broadcast
goes for as much as $8,000.
John Howell, general manager of Cox-owned rival WPXI(TV), said he and other
station executives in the Cox group have compared the logs of their CBS
affiliates with KDKA-TV's and found the latter doing more spots.
Executives in other groups-who say they complained to CBS group
management-claim they were told that KDKA-TV was chastised for its use of