Station Break

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All news is local. Contact Dan Trigoboff at (301) 260-0923, e-mail dtrigoboff@reedbusiness.com or fax (413) 254-4133

Duop Drops Newscast

Minneapolis— Hubbard Broadcasting has pulled the plug on its 9 p.m. newscast on second station KSTC and is reorganizing the news department at principal station KSTP there, leaving 27 people out of work. The station said that the reorganization had been overdue, but that running newscasts at both stations had kept things going as they were.

Despite its quality and the KSTP resources it tapped, said duopoly General Manager Ed Piette, the KSTC newscast never caught on. In September, Fox's duopoly moved its WFTC(TV) UPN news from 9 to 10 p.m. so it wouldn't compete with partner KMSP(TV)'s 9 p.m. newscast, but KSTC's newscasts still didn't get a boost. It's the third significant layoff for Hubbard, whose Minneapolis duopoly was among the nation's first in 2000, in little more than a year, following layoffs in October 2001 and the end of most CONUS operations last year.

WPIX Throws 'Em a Bone

New York— WPIX-TV issued an apology last week for implying in a 2001 story that a Korean restaurateur was selling the meat of domesticated dogs to the public. The apology was in exchange for the Korean couple's dropping its lawsuit.

But the joint statement from the Tribune-owned station, reporter Polly Kriesman, and Ju Ho and Roblyn Kim does not retract any inference that any kind of dog meat was sold, only domesticated canine meat. "The Kims have assured WB 11 and Kriesman that the carcass sold to the investigator was a coyote that had been legally trapped in the wild," the statement said.

In the original report, the restaurant first said that meat with which Kriesman confronted them was from other animals. The station had the meat tested and proven to be canine.

The station also apologized for any inference that raising dogs for food was widely practiced within the Korean-American community.

For Shame, Diaz Returns

New York— Veteran consumer reporter Arnold Diaz, who has spent the past few years at ABC News, will return to WCBS-TV, where he had worked for 22 years prior to joining ABC. WCBS-TV News Director Dianne Doctor said the veteran reporter will revive the "Shame on You" feature that exposed government and business corruption and incompetence and won Diaz 25 local Emmys at the station.

Diaz said he hopes to begin airing consumer stories next month "on at least a weekly basis. We're talking about a regular slot, so it can be appointment TV." Diaz, who was released from the end of his contract with ABC, said of his decision to return to the station ranks, "At a network magazine, there is no newsroom. You're in your office; you could be in any corporation. I like the newsroom environment. I like people running in the halls yelling that they've got the lead story."

Mayor Mishap

Columbus, Kan.— The mayor of Columbus, Kan., was charged with battery last week following a confrontation with KOAM-TV Joplin, Mo., reporter Jeanene Kiesling. According to the station, Kiesling was pushed by the mayor after he turned out the lights while she and a photographer were taking video in City Council chambers and she tried to turn them back on. She was not injured. Mayor Bill Schaiff was arrested Tuesday afternoon and released on $500 bond.

The Joplin Globe
reported that Schaiff said he was told by his attorney not to comment: "And you'd better be careful what you write or you might be a party in the lawsuit, too."

In reporting the story, the station noted that "careful consideration went into whether KOAM would cover this as a news story since a KOAM reporter is the alleged victim. In making the decision, KOAM applied the same standards used to determine the newsworthiness of this or any other story."

Station Auction

Watertown, N.Y., owner Anthony DiMarco posted on Internet auctioneer E-Bay his two low-power TV stations, WLOT-CA and WBQZ-LP, for sale together at a price of $950,000. DiMarco, who said the idea came from a Web-savvy staffer who uses E-Bay a lot, plans to use the proceeds of a sale to buy radio stations. By late week, there had been inquiries but no final deals. The posting was to end mid-day Saturday.

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