Station Break


Convert now, pay later

New York's state legislature may be willing to go into debt to help the state's nine public-TV stations convert to digital. A bill that would pay up to $30 million of the conversion —estimated at about 25%—via a bond issue was introduced last week with bipartisan support. Sen. John Kuhl Jr. (R-Steuben County), a principal sponsor of the bill, which would use bonds to cover the state's contribution (finances have been strained since Sept. 11), said, "We want to extend support to the PBS stations and their educational efforts, but we currently don't have $30 million. This is a one-time kind of expense." Kuhl believes the bill has a good chance of passage.

Philly fill-in

WCAU-TV Philadelphia weekend anchor Lisa Mishler has moved to weekdays while the station decides how it will replace Sharon Reed, the glamorous anchor who lost her job in what local media termed a "catfight" with colleague Alicia Taylor.

What began as an online battle between the two and their supporters—including personal, professional and even racially oriented insults—apparently degenerated to include threatening language. Stories differ as to the scope of a confession by Reed, but station officials were apparently convinced that the abusive postings were at least made with her knowledge. Police had investigated Taylor's complaint but brought no charges and referred the matter to the station.

Yates watch

All of Houston's TV stations with newscasts, in addition to cable news channels, went live with the verdict in the case of Andrea Yates, who was found guilty of murdering her children. The verdict came in at 4:45 p.m. CT Tuesday, so, by the time, the verdict was read and the jurors polled, stations were ready to take the live reports right into their 5 p.m. newscasts.

The pool camera, coordinated by KHOU-TV Operations Manager Karen LaFleur, was already in place following televised closing arguments in the trial. Video access was allowed only for the closing and verdict. Participating in the pool were KHOU-TV, KTRK-TV, KRIV(TV), KPRC-TV, KHWB(TV), KXLN-TV, and KTMD(TV).

Tribune shuffles deck

Peter Walker, senior vice president of Tribune Television, has been given oversight of the East Coast and Southern regions of the company's station group, as well as WGN-TV Chicago and WGN Superstation. The East Coast stations were previously the responsibility of Michael Eigner, who announced his retirement two weeks ago.

The move was among several in a restructuring of Tribune Television management. John Reardon will add responsibility for KWGN-TV Denver to oversight of the West Coast region. Joe Young, VP and general manager of KDAF-TV Dallas, has been named regional VP and continues as general manager of KDAF-TV, as well as overseeing WBZL-TV Miami, KHWB-TV Houston, and WGNO-TV/ WNOL-TV New Orleans.

Steve Carver, VP and general manager of WGN(AM) Chicago, has been named regional VP and will oversee WXIN-TV Indianapolis and WXMI-TV Grand Rapids, Mich.

A change of tone

WFAA-TV Dallas is teaming with co-owned Belo properties Texas Cable News and the Dallas Morning News,
as well as the Dallas Chapter of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA), on a public-service campaign targeting minority communities and cultures. "Statistics show Dallas leading the nation in newly reported cases of HIV among young people in minority communities," the station said.

The TV campaign will include three spots and feature news anchors Gloria Campos and John McCaa. The spots will focus on "the urgent need for a change of tone, a need for tolerance, and acceptance within the families and communities of those living with HIV and AIDS," said John McGill, DIFFA chairman.