Station Break


AFTRA To Represent WSNS

Chicago— A long-awaited election among on-air staffers at NBC-owned Telemundo station WSNS(TV) saw the selection of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists as bargaining representative. The vote was 6-3, with one additional challenged vote.

AFTRA and the station and its owners had been haggling over union recognition for the better part of a year, following NBC/GE's takeover of the Telemundo network and station group and the announced integration of NBC's WMAQ-TV Chicago and WSNS. The union wanted recognition as a bargaining unit based on petitions signed unanimously by eligible WSNS employees, but NBC held out for an NLRB-supervised election despite AFTRA-recruited pressure from local political and religious leaders, even the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Following the election, NBC, which indicated no intention to challenge it, said, "We look forward to working closely with the entire team of employees in making Telemundo the network of choice for our Spanish-speaking audience and our advertisers."

WISH-TV's Giles To Retire

Indianapolis— Lee Giles, arguably the dean of local news directors, told his staff Wednesday that he will retire in May after 35 years running the news at WISH-TV. Giles's legendary career includes nearly 40 years at the station and nearly 50 in news. His longevity as news director is especially unusual in a job where tenure is better measured in dog years.

Giles said he will hold onto his VP stripe through the summer so he can hit the 40-year mark with WISH-TV. The search for a replacement, he said, is on and is wide-open.

Friends and admirers can toast Giles's retirement this week at the RTNDA annual conference in Las Vegas. Among many achievements, he is well-known as an early mentor for NBC's Jane Pauley, who recently announced her own retirement.

Noncompetes Targeted in N.C.

Raleigh, N.C.— A North Carolina legislator has revived a proposal that would restrict noncompete clauses for on-air broadcast talent in that state. State Sen. Bob Rucho has said that use of the clause amounts to the creation of "indentured servants to the broadcasting industry," and he specifically targeted restrictive clauses that prohibit talent from appearing in the market even after they've been terminated.

That bill, though, went down to defeat in a May 2001 voice vote after vigorous opposition from the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters. That organization once again pledges to oppose this legislation, which it says is identical to the previous bill, and expects to defeat it. Rucho could not be reached for comment.

Viacom Stations Get Program Head

New York— Tom Remiszewski, vice president of creative services and marketing for the Viacom Stations Group, will also oversee programming for the 39-station group. Working with him will be Mark Cooper, who has been named director of program acquisition for the group. Cooper has been program director for Viacom's Philadelphia duopoly, KYW-TV and WPSG(TV). Remiszewski was one of the executives who arrived from WNBC-TV New York when former WNBC-TV General Manager Dennis Swanson became executive VP and COO for Viacom stations. Remiszewski had previously been VP of advertising and promotion for ABC Sports.

Long-Distance Check-Up

Miami— WFOR-TV's Mike Kirsch was the first reporter to arrive, post-rescue, at the hospital from which Private Jessica Lynch was saved last week by Navy SEALs, but he has been following closely a more personal story back home. Kirsch's wife is six months pregnant, and he has been able to use his satellite phone and station equipment to monitor his unborn daughter's progress.

"She lifted her shirt on camera and showed me her belly," said the father-to-be, "and our technology allowed me to see our second ultrasound." The veteran war correspondent has not been officially embedded but has managed to get around and find a temporary home with Allied troops on the fly.