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Bloody Hard Reporting: Danger on Duty

Hard news has taken on a whole new meaning of late. Last week, local television reporter John Mattes was added to the list of reporters getting beaten up in the line of duty. He was battered on camera while working on an investigative piece about a real estate scheme.

Mattes, reporting for Fox outlet XETV San Diego, was left bloodied and beaten after a subject and his accomplice expressed their extreme displeasure with his story. The video, which will long live on Youtube, shows Mattes getting slapped, punched, eye-gouged, bitten and body-slammed by a roughneck named Sam Suleiman.

Mattes might have appreciated a little help from cameraman Dennis Waldrop. But in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, he defends his lensman, who kept his camera on Mattes throughout the beating.

“It would have been inappropriate for him to drop the camera and run to my aid,” Mattes said. “And God bless him that he documented what happened to me because it would have been a he-said, she-said. It could have been a lot worse.”

Indeed. A quick search of various Internet video sites shows reporters getting stung by bees, attacked by dogs and pummeled mercilessly with snowballs by children on a snow-covered street. In one live shot this summer from a station in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., a WJXT reporter is knocked upside the head with a purse by a drunk.

The Committee to Protect Journalists doesn't officially track such incidents in the U.S., but the group does at least keep a watchful eye on them.

“We did take note of [the XETV incident], but in this case, the perpetrators were promptly arrested,” says a spokesperson. “So the system functioned.”

Luck Be A Katie

CBS isn't the only one who gambled on Katie Couric's shift to the evening news. Scores of bettors wagered on how Couric would fare opening night.

As was reported in the July 10 issue of B&C, Toronto oddsmaker Sportsbook.com drew the over/under line at 8.4 million viewers (the number that tuned in for her Today farewell), and fully 13.59 million viewers watched last Tuesday. Those who put $1,000 on Couric scoring more than 8.4 million viewers when the bet began walked away with a cool $1,500. (Payoffs decreased as more and more “punters” bet the over.)

A spokesperson for Sportsbook says a “predominant” majority showed Katie the love and bet the over. While the spokesperson doesn't envision any other Couric-related wagers for the foreseeable future, Sportsbook is taking action on reality-show winners.

Professional C-lister Mario Lopez is the 3-1 favorite to win the next edition of Dancing With the Stars (bow-tied hoofer Tucker Carlson is a longshot at 18-1), while Toby Rand is even-steven to snare Rock Star Supernova honors.

Sportsbook is also making book on Survivor, with even odds on whether the winner is male or female. Unlike the program, the oddsmaker didn't see fit to separate Survivor contestants by race.

MyNetworkSpaceTV

The youngsters who wile away the hours on MySpace.com aren't exactly in the sweet spot of the 18-49 demographic, but MyNetworkTV (MNT) is going after them anyway.

Since acquiring the social-networking Web giant last year, News Corp. has trumpeted the promotional possibilities of its prized asset. Now MNT, the company's telenovela-driven netlet that launched last week, has unveiled “MyMusic: Band Call Out”—a clarion call to the roughly 2.5 million musical groups with pages on MySpace that are just dying to appear on a primetime soap.

For the next 12 weeks, eight MySpace artists representing six different music genres will be featured each week on MyNetworkTV.com. (Meanwhile, the MNT site will appear on MySpace in the coming weeks.) The bands' fans are encouraged to vote for their favorites on the MNT site.

In early December, when Desire and Fashion House, starring Bo Derek, complete their 13-week cycles, six lucky bands will be chosen to have their music used in a future cycle.

News Corp. brass hope the effort hooks twentysomethings on telenovelas—assuming the whippersnappers know Bo Derek from Bo Bice.

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