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Gaming Ad Draws Scrutiny
Clarksburg, W.Va.— A "euphemistic" ad running on WVFX(TV) for a local gaming establishment has raised the issue of whether the state has a double standard on gambling ads.
While the state's race tracks can advertise their slot machines, even showing the machines in their ads, bars that offer video lottery machines cannot advertise them. But Blazzin 7's Casino and Lounge has been advertising "West Virginia games" and a "video room."
That ad has been referred to the West Virginia Lottery Commission, which could fine the station if it finds that the law has been broken. The station said last week that it had not been told the ad is outside the law, and the ad continues to run.
David Barnette, counsel to the West Virginia Broadcasters Association, said the use of euphemistic code words is a way around an inconsistency that should be addressed by the legislature. "We want to make sure all legal products can be advertised," he said.
News With Attitude
Baltimore— A new half-hour newscast following the 10 p.m. hour on Sinclair Broadcast Group's hometown station WBFF(TV) might fairly be said to combine Fox News attitude with CNN Headline News pace.
The newscast competes with three others at 11 p.m. and is, according to veteran anchor Morris Jones, in part a beta test for a newscast that might follow existing prime time Sinclair newscasts in its many markets. As with Sinclair's News Central, stations will be expected to plug in local stories in quick, digested form, according to a "wheel" that determines the time for local and national stories. The national news will be supplied by CNN Newsource. The Baltimore Sun
described early programs as "vertebrae-jolting," and "news at the speed of light."
But Jones objects to the newscast's characterization as "populist" or "conservative," characterizing Sinclair boss David Smith's approach as balanced and not driven by traditional media's story parameters. "We want to give stories a treatment that allows the viewer to decide," Jones said, further echoing the similarly characterized Fox News Network.
A year ago, Sinclair was getting a reputation for axing newscasts. But the company has built a state-of-the-art facility in Hunt Valley, Md., and launched its centralcast at a previously newsless Flint, Mich., station last year. Although the company says it will ultimately add journalism jobs, some staffers fear that their local news will be replaced by a centralcast likely to diminish the local presence. In March, News Central is expected to launch at Sinclair stations in Oklahoma City; Raleigh, N.C.; and Rochester, N.Y.—stations that are already doing newscasts.
Allbritton Taps Lord
Washington— Bill Lord, former news director at KIRO-TV Seattle and KNBC-TV Los Angeles, last week became vice president for news at Allbritton's Washington operations. Lord will oversee news at both WJLA-TV and Newschannel 8, which recently merged newsrooms in Roslyn, Va. Rival WRC-TV is led by Bob Long, whom Lord once hired in Los Angeles and recommended for Long's current position.
Lord replaces Steve Hammel, who left to become station manager at Meredith's KPHO-TV Phoenix. Although the WJLA newscast is well-regarded—it received the Project for Excellence in Journalism's only A grade for the DMA in 2001—it trails WRC-TV and WUSA in the ratings.
St. Louis— Former CNN correspondent and St. Louis radio personality Charles Jaco is returning to both radio and television in St. Louis. He will join Fox-owned KTVI(TV) as a reporter and KFTK-FM as host of a morning show. Jaco last worked in St. Louis at KMOX(AM). He won't be starting until later this month because of a noncompete clause in his KMOX deal.
The Mideast Beat
WFOR-TV Miami reporter Mike Kirsch is making his third trip to the Middle East since 9/11 and will be filing reports from Kuwait. "We plan on his being there for several months," says News Director Shannon High, adding that the experienced correspondent for the CBS-owned station could be "embedded" with troops in the event of a war in Iraq.