Station Break - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Break

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Fox affil goes to CBS

WVSX(TV) Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, W.Va., will end its Fox affiliation and shift to CBS. GM Gary O'Halloran said that, although the station enjoyed a good relationship with Fox over the course of its four-year affiliation, CBS' programming would better suit the demographics of his market, which, he noted, has "the oldest average age of any market in the country."

Among instant benefits, he pointed out, will be broadcasts of Pittsburgh Steelers NFL games, in addition to CBS' NCAA basketball and golf coverage.

Defining truth

Rocky Mountain Media Watch will continue to press the Federal Trade Commission to restrict Denver-area TV stations from advertising their newscasts as news. RMMW said that the stations' offerings of "Mayhem, Fluff, Weather and Sports" do not constitute news, and, therefore, the ads deceive the public.

FTC Associate Director Lee Peeler dismissed the petition that RMMW filed in May, commenting that "RMMW's petition appears to be based on the assumption that the term 'news' is synonymous with what some call 'hard news' or issue-oriented news, and that a broader usage of the term … is deceptive or unfair." Peeler added that there was no evidence consumers were misled or injured. Denver station executives have disputed and dismissed the charges.

Seeking reconsideration from the FTC last week, RMMW argued that, "if the government is willing to regulate the stations' licensing process and cloak them with the authority of public trustees, it is appropriate—indeed necessary—for the government to ensure that the stations are not abusing this privilege by deceiving consumers in order to maximize profits."

Close call

Tulsa cameraman Kevin Foristal avoided serious injury and kept filming when someone drove a pickup truck into the KJRH(TV) news van at the scene of a local story about a Bixby landowner's attempt to clear his land of prairie dogs.

Look [up] for the union label

In an effort to drum up local support, technical workers at WKYC-TV Cleveland sent an airborne message and also distributed leaflets outside Browns stadium just before the home team's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

"Our members were joined by members of other unions in town," said Bill Wachenschwanz, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians local and an employee of WJW(TV).

The union hired a plane to fly a banner over the stadium that read: WKYC, Bargain A Fair Contract. "We've done this before," Wachenschwanz said. "The nice thing about Cleveland is that it's a strong union town."

Good Morning, N.Y.

Tribune's WPIX(TV) New York has expanded its morning show to 21/2 hours, adding a half hour at 5:30 a.m. News Director Karen Scott said the move was in response to an increasing number of early risers and early-morning commuters. "Tri-state–area viewers have made it clear that there is a demand for local, early-morning TV news with a focus on traffic and weather," said Scott. "We have long been eager to meet that demand." She described the show, which debuted June 2000, as "a natural for expansion."

No sale

A spokeswoman for WHDH-TV Boston last week denied reports that had apparently surfaced on the Internet that the station was in the process of being sold to Fox. The reports had prompted local print and broadcast media to call the station for confirmation. In fact, station spokeswoman Ro Dooley said Sunbeam Television owner Ed Ansin has maintained that he's more likely to be buying stations than selling either of the two—WSVN(TV) Miami is the other—that he owns.

Executive dominos

Ellen Miller has left WBTV(TV) Charlotte, N.C., and has been replaced by Dennis Mulligan, who was brought over from WCBD-TV Charleston, S.C., where he was news director. Mulligan was, in turn, succeeded by Chris Drummond, who had been assistant news director at Charlotte's WCSC-TV.

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