Station Break - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Break

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No brotherly love?

KYW-TV Philadelphia reporter Beverly Williams is suing the station, charging race, sex and age discrimination. Williams first raised the issues before the EEOC and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission a few years ago, and, since they're unresolved by the agencies, she has now taken them to court.

The CBS-owned station in the No. 4 market denies any wrongdoing and has said it will vigorously defend itself. Typically, stations cite market research, job performance and change in direction behind on-air changes, and the ratings-troubled KYW-TV has made many on-air changes over the years. Williams, an African-American, contends that she has invariably been replaced at various positions by someone of another race or gender and/or by someone younger.

Vows at 11

WHO-TV Des Moines, Iowa, anchor Bobbi Silvernail is apparently going into her June 16 wedding with a media strategy. In a memorable article in the Des Moines Register, she and her husband-to-be, plastic surgeon Ronald Bergman, left little for local speculation—albeit a great deal for gossip.

"If you just put it out on the table, there is less to talk about," Silvernail told the local paper. "If they have to find out something themselves, they're more likely to talk about it."

The couple detailed their difference in age—he's 53, she's 28—and in wealth, the size of her engagement ring and how they met: Bergman did Silvernail's breast-enhancement operation.

Station management appeared surprised by the interview when contacted by B&C, although WHO-TV has taken a somewhat progressive stance in the past. Silvernail's station Website bio noted, for instance, that "Bobbi lives with her fiancé, Dr. Ronald Bergman, in Des Moines" and listed the wedding date. By week's end, however, that changed to "Bobbi plans to marry her fiancé, Dr. Ronald Bergman, in June."

Dropping Oprah

Gannett-owned WFMY-TV Greensboro, N.C., outbid Hearst-Argyle-owned WXII-TV Winston-Salem, N.C., for the final two years of The Oprah Winfrey Show, but WFMY-TV last week exited the deal, and WXII-TV instead will begin its run of the show Sept. 2. WFMY-TV, which has carried Oprah
for several years, said the decision was a change in strategy but would not comment on whether economics were a factor.

WXII-TV GM Hank Price commented, "Obviously, Oprah
was worth more to us than to WFMY, and that's why we have it."

Moving upstate

Veteran broadcaster Dick Lobo will take over this week as president and CEO of PBS station WEDU(TV) Tampa, Fla. Lobo is best known for his 23 years with NBC, most recently as president and GM of WTVJ(TV) Miami—where he began his career as a reporter/photographer. He has also worked in management at NBC's WMAQ-TV Chicago and WNBC(TV) New York and is a former director of the U.S. Information Agency's Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

Ohio anchor sues

Longtime Columbus, Ohio, anchorman Pete Scovill is suing his former employers WSYX(TV) and WTTE(TV), charging age discrimination and harassment. Scovill, 56, claims that, after he was rejected as a candidate for news director—in favor of the younger David Silverstein—Silverstein harassed him to get him to leave the station. Scovill left in February, reportedly on medical leave. Silverstein could not be reached for comment.

D.C. decision

WJLA-TV Washington, which brought back former WUSA(TV) Washington news star Maureen Bunyan a few years ago, is looking for a co-anchor. Kathleen Matthews has been co-anchoring temporarily, but the station wants a permanent replacement. Ren Scott, a reporter/anchor for CBS-owned KYW-TV Philadelphia, is said to be a contender. The Allbritton-owned station, which is combining facilities this summer with co-owned Newschannel 8, wants to fill the spot by fall, sources said, and will launch a large-scale promotional campaign touting its revamped anchor desk.

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