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Milwaukee

Thema Ponton to Join Milwaukee ABC Station

PONTON-240x180---25223440Thema Ponton, anchor for Portland, ME, ABC affiliate WMTW, is headed to Milwaukee ABC affiliate WISN.

Ponton will anchor the weekend morning newscasts for WISN and will also report three days a week for the weekday morning news. Her first day will be Monday.

WISN general manager Jan Wade told TVSpy, “We are very excited to welcome Thema to our staff.”

Ponton started her career at WTXL in Tallahassee, FL. Before working at WMTW, Ponton worked at WBTW in Myrtle Beach, SC.  She has also worked at WPGH in Pittsburgh, KALB in Alexandria, LA.

Appeals Court Backs Former Milwaukee Reporter in Defamation Lawsuit

wtmj_304Former WTMJ reporter John Mercure, along with WTMJ and its parent company Journal Broadcasting have been cleared of defamation by a Wisconsin appeals court.

The suit sprung from Mercure’s investigation into a local wedding videographer named Angela Terry who was accused of not fulfilling her promise of delivering completed videos to the couples who paid for her service within the promised 1o-12 weeks.

The investigation from the Milwaukee NBC affiliate reporter included a scuffle between the reporter and the defendant caught on camera, claims by Mercure that the defendant was “facing criminal charges” and Mercure calling Terry a “scammer” and a “cheat.”

The Wisconsin Bar Association has the court’s ruling:

In Terry v. Mercure et al., 2012AP1682 (Oct. 15, 2013), a three-judge panel for the District I Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that that all alleged defamatory statements in question were either opinions are substantially true.

Defamation requires a false statement to be communicated in speech, conduct, or writing to a third-person, and the communication must harm the subject’s reputation. Read more

WTMJ Managing Editor Jim Cullen Dies

jim cullen_304x200Jim Cullen, the managing editor of Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ, died Wednesday of brain cancer.

Cullen was the station’s “colorful, lovable managing editor” for 15 years, according to WTMJ. He was diagnosed two years ago with brain cancer. His first granchild was born last month. “We miss you Jimmy. We know you’re in a better place, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” anchor Mike Jacobs said in an on-air tribute Wednesday.

Watch WTMJ’s report after the jump. Read more

Samara Sodos Returns to WTMJ

sodos_twitter_wtmjSamara Sodos has joined Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ as noon co-anchor and morning show reporter.

Sodos started her career at WTMJ as an associate producer. In June 2012, she left her job as a reporter for Tampa’s WFLA to work as the public information officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports at Sodos’ last press conference before taking the job as as spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told reporters, “Now she’s going to be an obstacle to all of you doing your jobs. She’s going to be on this side of the podium giving you all hell, denying your freedom of information requests and saying she has no comment whatsoever, (and) that David Gee is the greatest sheriff in the history. Sam, we love ya, it’s been a long time.”

WTMJ Apologizes For Report Alleging Police Misconduct

wtmj_surveillance_304Five months after a sensationalized promo for a Sweeps story, Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ has apologized to a police officer featured in the promo.

WTMJ promoted an “explosive I-team investigation months in the making” by showing surveillance video of police officer Matthew Knight at an ATM with a man. The promo copy reads: “A Milwaukee police officer taking a man’s cash out of an ATM. Then walking off with that cash in hand. What’s really going on? The Milwaukee police department has some explaining to do.” (Video of the promo is after the jump.)

The police officer in the surveillance video was cleared of wrongdoing in March, two months before WTMJ aired the story. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Duane Dudek reports that during Tuesday’s 5 pm newscast, anchor Mike Jacobs read the following statement:

We strive for accuracy in our reporting. But despite our best efforts, when we do get a story wrong, we owe it to you to stand corrected. Earlier this year, our reporting and promotion of a story involving Matthew Knight, a Milwaukee police officer, left the wrong impression that Officer Knight was involved in inappropriate or wrongful behavior. He was not. Read more

After Settling Retrans Fight, WTMJ Not Channel Four Anymore

tmj_twcLast week WTMJ and Time Warner Cable settled a nearly two-month long battle over retransmission fees. While Time Warner Cable customers can watch NBC programming again, they can’t watch it on channel 4 anymore.

The Milwaukee station that markets itself as “Today’s TMJ4″ was moved two slots down to channel 2 on the standard definition tier but stayed at channel 1004 on HD. TWC added the “Game Show Network” to SD channel 4.

WTMJ executive vice president Steve Wexler told TVSpy, while the move may have initially confused TWC customers, “it’s clear viewers have made the adjustment, as we’ve seen audience levels bounce back quickly.”

So why the move? Mike Pedelty, spokesperson for Time Warner Cable told the Milwaukee Business Journal his company gets to decide where stations air since they own the space. Read more

Milwaukee’s WDJT Expands Morning Newscast

wdjt_304Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT is expanding its morning newscast by 30 minutes, TVNewsCheck reports.

“We feel it is important to give our viewers an even earlier start to their morning,” WDJT news director Genie Garner said. “When you wake up, what happened overnight, and what the weather is going to be for the day ahead is very important information. Our expanding coverage will give morning Milwaukee news viewers more choices in the morning.”

The expanded morning newscast, anchored by Jessica Tighe and Nate Kuester, will begin at 4:30 a.m.

Former Milwaukee, Dayton Anchor’s Death Ruled Accidental

The death of former Milwaukee and Dayton anchor Asa George has been ruled accidental, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. According to the medical examiner’s report, George was found in her apartment after a relative called police and asked them to check on her:

Officers and firefighters found George’s decomposing body inside a bathtub filled with water. The house was messy and covered with blood and feces, and a malnourished boxer dog was in the home.  Positive identification was delayed as examiners awaited dental records from Ohio, where George had once worked as a TV anchor in Dayton.

Relatives told investigators that George had battled a serious alcoholism problem for years. Two empty vodka bottles and numerous prescription medications also were found in the home. George’s aunt told investigators that George had lost several jobs over her drinking problem and had been treated numerous times, against her will, but continued abusing alcohol.

The report indicates that the death was not attributable to drowning or a laceration to her head.

WDJT Responds to Recent Complaints

WDJT has responded to TVSpy’s request for comment about the two discrimination complaints recently filed against the station.

In an email, vice president and general manager Jim Hall told TVSpy,

We have received copies of the discrimination charges that were filed by two employees with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Weigel Broadcasting Co. and CBS 58 have a strong commitment to equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination.  We take any such allegations very seriously, and we are reviewing them with our legal counsel.   However, as a policy, we do not comment on pending legal matters.  We look forward to addressing these matters through the legal process.

Anchor and reporter Shari Dunn filed a complaint on August 30 saying both parent company Weigel Broadcasting and WDJT management maintain “a culture of discrimination where white males are favored over minority females.” Two weeks later, WDJT reporter and Telemundo Wisconsin anchor Carlos Vergara filed a separate complaint alleging he was denied the opportunity to anchor for WDJT in favor of less experienced anchors who spoke only English. This week, a station photographer resigned saying he didn’t feel the station was concerned with his safety.

Former Milwaukee, Dayton Anchor Found Dead

A former anchor for CBS affiliate WDJT in Milwaukee has died. Asa George was found dead at her home in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis. WDJT had a story on George’s death last night reporting that the medical examiner’s office has “put a seal on all documents relating to her case,” so they could not reveal the cause of death. “We wish to express our condolences to her family and friends and broadcasting colleagues,” said anchor Michele McCormack.

George was a morning anchor at WDJT from March 2010 to February 2011. She had also freelanced at Fox affiliate WITI.

George had previously worked at Sinclair duopoly Fox45 and ABC22 in Dayton, OH.

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