Search and Destroy
Albuquerque, N.M.—Undercover work is no longer an option for a couple of Albuquerque narcotics cops whose faces were shown on TV after they were accused of sexual assault. Placed on leave June 9, the officers were cleared of the charges, but they won't be able to resume their old jobs. KOB, which is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, named the officers, showed their photos, and shot pictures of their homes. A police spokesman labeled KOB's reporting "overzealous" and "sensationalized." KOB acting News Director Rhonda Aubrey blamed the police department for failing to point out that the officers worked undercover, adding that the station routinely protects identities in such cases.
FORT MYERS, FLA. Fox affiliate WFTX has axed the nightly sports segment from its 10 p.m. newscast. News Director Jeff Roth said the decision was made after the station's main sports anchor left. Although the market has no major sports team, it's a sign of the times. Increasingly, TV stations have cut back on sports coverage as the Internet and cable provide quicker access to scores and in-game progress reports. WFTX competitor WBBH, the NBC affiliate, just brought back its sports segments—but with a new focus you won't find on ESPN: local sports.
Ad Industry: No New Taxes
Tucson, Ariz.—The city council is considering reinstating a 2% tax on advertising that was repealed more than a decade ago. The city finance department says the fee would raise about $3.5 million a year to help balance a tight budget. The Tucson Advertising Federation, led by Ray Depa, general manager of Emmis-owned KGUN, counters that the levy would discriminate against businesses located within city limits and give unfair competitive advantage to those that aren't. Among those exempt from the tax: KOLD, owned by Raycom, and Comcast Cable. Neither is headquartered in Tuscon.
Houston—KHOU launched its own local infomercial program June 12. And the first-ever move for a Belo-owned station may spread. Each month, KHOU will produce a 30-minute magazine-type show called What's Up America? Houston Edition
. Sponsors, including a car dealer and beauty-supply company, purchase a segment in the show or pay to have it originate from their location. "Local businesses want a television program in which they can showcase their products and services in a more unhurried format than a 30-second commercial," says Lisa Shumate, executive director of Belo Marketing Solutions. Belo stations in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, Texas, are considering their own versions.
Fade to Black
San Mateo, Calif.—KCSM is one of the very few U.S. TV stations to offer a digital-only signal, but it's not by choice. In mid May, when the owner of the tower holding the station's transmitting antenna doubled the rent and required a 20-year lease, KCSM shut off its analog transmitter. Bay Area fans with cable, satellite, or digital receivers can still see the station, but an estimated 250,000 viewers who received the PBS signal over-the-air are stranded. Station management is scouting for a new transmitter site.
Up From the Minors
Birmingham, Ala.—Bill Fitzgerald, weekend anchor and general assignment reporter for WVTM, will join MSNBC as an anchor next month. A jump from the No. 51 market to No. 1? WVTM is owned by NBC, which has had its eye on Fitzgerald for a while. MSNBC has also used him as a past fill-in. Before joining WVTM five years ago, Fitzgerald was an off-air reporter and associate producer at WVIT, the NBC-owned station in Hartford, Conn., and a reporter for cable's News 12 Long Island, owned by Cablevision.
WBZ Taps Ellis
After a national search, WBZ Boston has found its news director—in its own backyard. The CBS-owned station formally promoted acting News Director Matt Ellis to the top job, replacing Peter Brown, who left in March to take a PR post. Ellis is former executive producer at WCBS and once ran the news shop at WPRI Providence, R.I. He joined WBZ in 2001 as assistant news director.