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Archives: March 2011

NCAA Basketball or Hostage Situation? POLL: You make the call

Steve Schwaid, VP of digital content for all Meredith stations and head of news at Atlanta’s WGCL (CBS) writes on his personal blog about a “news director’s nightmare,” deciding between carrying a breaking news story or a live sporting event: in this case, the NCAA basketball tournament.

Schwaid, who has been news director in Hartford, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, as well heading up news for NBC’s local stations group, was faced with that dilemma Friday night when a days-long manhunt for an accused cop killer ended with the suspect taking hostages and demanding that local stations carry his surrender.

Police said he would come out at 11:01 p.m. For all the other stations, this was easy. They were all in their local newscasts. We were in the midst of the second game – Kentucky versus Ohio State. For all we knew he was watching the game with the hostages. There is no way I wanted to live with the fact that if we didn’t carry his surrender, he might not come out or more importantly, hurt or kill a hostage. Do I worry about a person’s life or a basketball game? Honestly, an easy decision.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, more breaking news caused more bastketball interuptions less than 24 hours later.

Read more

Former TV3 Reporter Sentenced to 4 Years in Jail

The news hit close to home as TV3, an ABC-affiliate in Winchester, VA owned by Gray Television, reported this week that Ryan O’Connor, a former reporter with the station, had been sentenced to four years in jail for the possession of child pornography and propositioning a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl online.

O’Connor, 25, was arrested in September 2009 and charged with four counts of child pornography, one count of taking indecent liberties with a child and one count of using a computer related to those crimes. In February, he pleaded guilty as part of an agreement that would cap his maximum jail time at 10 years.

O’Connor has been sentenced to four years in prison, according to TV3, plus ten years of supervised probation.

Shortly after his arrest in 2009, TV3 terminated his employment. Read more

Doreen Wade Named VP-GM of WSMV

Doreen Wade has been named vice president and general manager of Nashville’s WSMV. Meredith, which owns the NBC-affiliate, announced today that Wade would succeed longtime station boss Elden Hale, who’s retiring this month.

“Doreen possesses extensive local experience and a successful track record in broadcasting management. She is a loyal and committed leader, and I have no doubt that she will mesh well with our dedicated employees at WSMV,” said Paul Karpowicz, president of Meredith’s Local Media Group, in announcing the move.

Most recently Wade served as president of Freedom Broadcasting, which owns eight stations across the country including West Palm Beach’s WPEC, where she previously worked as vice president and GM.

“WSMV-TV has a long history of strong ratings and service to the people of Mid-Tennessee,” said Wade. “I look forward to continuing this legacy.”

Louisville’s WHAS and WAVE Start Chopper Partnership

In an arrangement that is becoming more prevalent across the country, Louisville’s WHAS and WAVE are set to begin sharing a news helicopter this week.

Starting Friday, WHAS, a Belo-owned ABC-affiliate and WAVE, a Raycom Media-owned NBC-affiliate, will begin sharing a news helicopter from Helicopters Inc., based in St. Louis.

According to LouisvilleKY.com, the two stations will share air time and video feeds, especially in the event of breaking news, while also partitioning time for individual use of the chopper.

Earlier this month in Miami, NBC O&O WTVJ joined with WFOR and WPLG in sharing a helicopter.

“It’s becoming really common all across the country,” WHAS news director Mark Neerman said.

Veteran WNYW Anchor Ernie Anastos Looking to Put Positive Spin on News

“I’m looking for balance,” veteran WNYW anchor Ernie Anastos said recently, as he reflected on a long career that is to be honored this weekend with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the New York chapter of NATAS. “Let’s get some positive stories on the news as well.”

In an interview with Richard Huff of the Daily News, Anastos, who anchors WNYW’s 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts alongside Dari Alexander, says that it is his duty to change the popular perception of local news that is “you have to do something bad to get on the news.”

“I’ve heard it enough times to really feel that’s why I have to put some of these better stories on,” he said. “I’m the messenger. If I can bring better stories on the air–and working within the system–then I’m making a difference.”

“Sometimes, as we know in life, it takes time. If you want to do something, you have to start. I’m starting this process.”

WRIC News Van Mobbed at VCU Celebration

A WRIC news van became an impromptu stage for VCU fans in Richmond as residents crowded the streets, celebrating the hometown team’s unlikely trip to the Final Four.

In covering the jubilation, the ABC-affiliate had a news van parked amid a throng of fans and many scaled the vehicle to get a better vantage point of the celebration or to show off a few dance moves (video above).

In Duluth, WDIO Picks Darren Danielson to Succeed Retiring Anchor Dennis Anderson

WDIO has named a successor for longtime anchor Dennis Anderson, who is retiring this spring after more than four decades with the station. The Duluth ABC-affiliate announced on Monday that Darren Danielson (right) would be the new anchor of its 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

“Darren comes to us with almost 25 years of broadcast journalism experience. We feel very fortunate to have him join us,” WDIO news director Steve Goodspeed said, in making the announcement. “Darren is a respected reporter, producer and anchor.”

Danielson is a familiar face to viewers in northern Minnesota, having spent the past 14 years anchoring “Almanac North,” a weekly public affairs program, on Duluth PBS-affiliate WDSE.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to work at the station and help carry on the tradition others have established there,” Danielson said about the move. “I know I can’t replace Dennis Anderson, but I promise to bring to the position the traits he brought us every night—honesty, integrity, objectivity and fairness.”

FCC Fines KMSP, WMGM for Airing Corporate Video

The FCC has levied fines against two stations for not properly disclosing the corporate involvement of news segments that aired in 2006.

Last week the FCC issued $4,000 fines against KMSP, a Fox O&O in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and WMGM, an NBC-affiliate in South Jersey, for “apparent willful violation of section 317 of the Communications Act,” which requires stations to air a sponsorship identification announcement when broadcasting a segment that has been aided or funded by a sponsor.

The offending segments used footage taken from video news releases (VNRs) and didn’t disclose this fact or offer footage of competing brands.

In the case of WMGM, the station aired footage taken from a Zicam VNR during a health segment about using zinc-based medicine (such as Zicam) to fight the common cold. The segment included shots of Zicam as well as a doctor’s recommendation to use it, while not offering coverage of competing brands. Read more

LIN Media Warns Viewers of Potential COX Blackout

LIN Media stations along the east coast are warning viewers of a potential blackout this week if their parent company cannot reach a new retrans agreement with COX Communications. LIN’s current carriage deal with COX expires at midnight on March 31st.

“Please know that we are working hard to reach a new agreement with COX so you will not lose your favorite programming,” reads a statement from LIN that has been posted on the websites of affected stations. “If we do not reach an agreement, by law, COX cannot carry our television stations on its cable system.”

LIN’s statement goes on to suggest that, in the event of a blackout, viewers switch to a competing pay-TV provider.

Here’s a list of the stations that could go dark this week… Read more

Knoxville’s WBIR and WTNZ Begin First Phase of Production Partnership

The first stage of the recently announced partnership between Knoxville NBC-affiliate WBIR and Fox-affiliate WTNZ begins this week.

Earlier this month, Raycom Media-owned WTNZ announced that WBIR, which is owned by Gannett, would begin producing its newscasts as part of the station’s strategy to cost-effectively expand its local news programming and eventually begin broadcasting in HD.

WTNZ is debuting its new, WBIR-produced 10 p.m. newscast today anchored by Robin Wilhoit and John Becker (right), who will continue helming WBIR’s 11 p.m. newscast as well.

WTNZ’s 10 p.m. newscast will expand to an hour in “late May or early June,” WBIR news director Bill Shory told the Knoxville News Sentinel. At that point, Beth Haynes, who currently hosts WBIR’s 4 p.m. news and lifestyle show, will rotate in with Wilhoit and Becker at 10 p.m.

The other elements of the partnership–HD broadcasting and a new, two-hour morning newscast–are set to launch by the end of June.

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