Scripps 3Q: Retransmission Fees Jump
November 10, 2013
The E.W. Scripps Co. reported third quarter television station revenue down 20.8% compared to the same quarter last year due to the dearth of political advertising, which fell from $33.9 million to $1 million.
However, core spot revenue (excluding political) rose 7.5% quarter-over-quarter, with national spot ($27.4 million) up 5.4% and local ($54.6 million) up 5%.
The TV station revenue was also boosted by a 40% increase in retransmission fees from cable and satellite operators to $10.4 million. In addition, digital revenue grew 6.1% to $44.3 million.
Total television segment expenses decreased 3.7%, primarily related to reductions in incentive compensation, lower syndicated programming costs and lower marketing and promotion costs. The prior-year period included marketing and promotion costs to support the debut of Let’s Ask America and The List.
"In television we saw, in addition to the rise in retransmission fees, an increase in local, national and digital advertising, despite an uncertain economic environment,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman, president and CEO.
For the company as a whole, which also includes newspapers, consolidated revenue was $190 million, a decrease of 14%, or $30.1 million, from the prior-year quarter. In this off-cycle period, political advertising revenues decreased $32.9 million.
NLRB Restores Rights to NBC Content Producers
October 1, 2013
In a big victory for NABET-CWA members at NBC Universal, the National Labor Relations Board has rejected management's attempt to slash the wages, benefits and bargaining rights of about 100 photographers, editors and writers by reclassifying them as "content producers."
The decision was issued by the three-member Democratic majority on the NLRB. "This shows the value of having a fully functioning, five-member NLRB. CWA and our coalition partners made that possible," said CWA President Larry Cohen.
NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said the NLRB decision means that NBC workers and their families finally are getting justice. "NBC must restore the wages, benefits and bargaining rights that these workers lost. It's a great day for fairness."
Joyce noted that CWA's work to have a fully-functioning Board confirmed by the U.S. Senate means that "the NLRB is now back to issuing important decisions and giving workers a path to justice."
Two years ago, the NLRB's Region 2 ordered NBC to restore the bargaining rights of the workers it tried to reclassify into non-union jobs.
Testimony at the Region 2 Board hearing made clear that while the job title of "content producer" was new, the work performed by these employees wasn't; employees were continuing their regular work. The decision affects NABET-CWA members who lost their bargaining rights as well as new employees hired as "content producers."
The decision cannot be appealed beyond the full NLRB.
Channel 10, Local 54 Celebrate 60 Years
September 13, 2013
Sixty years ago today, KFSD-TV Channel 10 signed-on for the first time, an affiliate of the NBC Television Network. It was the culmination of months of work by members of the newly-formed NABET Local 54, installing and testing equipment. The TV station briefly shared space with KFSD-AM/FM at the U.S. Grant Hotel before moving to 3642 Enterprise Street (now occupied by Walter Anderson Nursery).
Channel 10 covered local parades and other events, produced live and filmed commercials and established a newscast that was branded KFSD-TV News. The very next year, original owner Airfan Radio Corporation sold all 3 stations to the investment firm of Fox, Wells & Rogers.
The station quickly outgrew its Enterprise St. facilities, so it bought 7 acres of land on a knoll 4 miles east of downtown in the "suburbs." The 47th St. parcel was conveniently located next to the "new" 6-lane Highway 94 freeway and bordered on the west by city-owned land reserved for a "future crosstown freeway" (now Interstate 805).
The 43,000 square foot, million-dollar Broadcast City was dedicated on May 25, 1958 and brought KFSD-TV-AM-FM under the same roof for the first time.
The state-of-the-art facility boasted 3 television studios (one outdoors), 2 control rooms, 2 audio rooms, a booth for a live announcer, a scenic shop, paint shop, film processing and editing facilities, a huge film projection room, makeup and green rooms and was built to handle future technologies like color television and videotape.
Ceding to the times, the newsroom was located in the area of the building housing the radio stations (currently the home of traffic and sales).
In 1961, all 3 stations changed their call letters to KOGO and the newscasts were rebranded as KOGO News. After several attempts to sell the stations, the broadcasting division of Time-Life purchased KOGO-TV-AM-FM in 1962. Time-Life already owned stations in Denver, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Bakersfield, California.
One of the most popular local programs at the time was The Johnny Downs Show. Targeted at children coming home after school, Downs entertained and informed audiences in between reruns of cartoons and The Little Rascals. There was a huge waiting list for kids wanting to attend the live broadcast and it was a popular place to go on birthdays, as kids were invited to play games and get toys and candy after the show. Golden Arrow Dairy was a regular sponsor and in live commercials Downs was featured as a superimposed miniature dancer on top of an old-style milk bottle.
It was nearly a requisite in the 60's that every station have a horror movie host and KOGO was no exception. Lisa Clark played Moona Lisa on Science Fiction Theatre from 1963-70. Broadcast from the surface of the moon amidst a mound of boulders and billowing smoke, Moona Lisa sported long black hair, tight jeans and sex appeal.
Moona Lisa welcomed viewers to the show with a seductively inviting "Hello earthlings" and concluded each show saying, "Happy Hallucinations, Honeys." Clark's husband Jeff was a long-time account executive in the KOGO sales department. After a stint in Los Angeles, Lisa Clark would return to host the Perspectives public affairs show in the 1980's.
As NABET members stayed busy with local production including live, filmed and now taped commercials and programs, KOGO jumped on a popular trend and in 1965, rebranded its newscasts as Eyewitness News.
Regis Philbin honed his "host chat" skills in 1966 with That Regis Philbin Show live from Channel 10's Studio 1.
In late 1970, Time-Life announced the sale of all its stations to McGraw-Hill. By the time the $57 million deal was concluded in June 1972, the Grand Rapids station was no longer part of the package and the FCC forced McGraw-Hill to sell the radio stations in San Diego, Denver and Indianapolis. This was the result of new rules restricting the concentration of media ownership. KOGO-TV's call letters were changed to KGTV.
With a background mostly in books and education, McGraw-Hill immediately shut down the commercial production unit, Pacific Productions. Some NABET members were laid off, but most were absorbed into the TV station operations.
Tapping into its educational roots, McGraw-Hill hired radio personality Shotgun Tom Kelly to host a new syndicated game show for kids. Produced at KGTV, Words-A-Poppin' began a 5-year run in 1974, picking up multiple Emmy awards along the way.
"As a child I grew up watching Johnny Downs on his children's show on Channel 10," Shotgun Tom said. "Almost from the start I had a desire to host a children's show such as his. So when the opportunity arose for me to audition for Words-A-Poppin' I jumped at the chance."
Taped in front of a studio audience, the show featured a panel of six kids attempting to unscramble words grouped in a category (like kinds of birds or foods), racking up points and prizes for correct answers. A decade later, KGTV would try to repeat its success with the short-lived Scholastic SuperStars hosted by Mike Ambrose.
Tired of lagging in the ratings, KGTV made the decision to crank up its competitive edge in the late 70's. It dumped the NBC network for top-rated ABC, rebranded its newscasts as The News, added InstaCam units that could transmit live news from the field and leased a helicopter with live capability. SKY10 would be the only newschopper in the market for the next 2 decades.
While commercial and program production would always remain, this began a shift to news as the primary programming effort. With the news department working in cramped quarters (most recently used as corporate offices), KGTV decided to build an addition to the building while also cutting the scenic shop and prop storage area in half and eliminating the paint shop.
The new newsroom was dedicated in July 1981 and the newscasts were rebranded as 10News. The ratings rose and the station remained top-rated for the next two-and-a-half decades.
With the solid commitment to news and information, local programs in the 80's and 90's included the long-running Sunday morning Newsmakers with John Beatty and a series of town hall meetings including one with President Clinton in 1994.
In June 1988, KGTV launched Inside San Diego, an ambitious midday talk show with Bill Griffith and Laura Buxton. The show was replaced in 1993 with 10News Midday.
Meanwhile, technology led the way. For news, film gave way to tape; 3/4" Umatic, then BetaCam, DVCPro and memory cards. For operations, film and 2" videotape gave way to 1" tape, then BetaCam, DVCPro and servers.
In 1993, studio camera operators gave way to robotics and in 2002, production technicians gave way to production automation. With consolidation occurring within the broadcast industry, NABET merged with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 1994 and became known as NABET-CWA.
In 1995, NABET-CWA members convinced KGTV managers to launch a website. KGTV.com became thesandiegochannel.com and finally 10News.com.
Through the decades, Local 54 took pride in partnering with management to accommodate technological change while also benefitting its members. That relationship -- which never saw a major dispute -- took a big hit in 2005.
McGraw-Hill and local management decided to try and bust the Union. When the contract expired at the end of January 2006, management negotiated to impasse, terminated employees, implemented their proposals and launched personal attacks on Union members.
Local 54 members fought back by appealing to KGTV's advertisers and the public. Ratings and revenue took a big hit, with the station dropping to 5th place for some newscasts. Despite that, management used delay tactics as they kept chipping away at employees' support for their Union.
In March 2011, employees finally got the chance to have their say, voting by a 2-1 margin to keep their Union in a vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Two months later, McGraw-Hill decided to exit the TV business, putting its stations up for sale. Media insiders said all the stations were suffering from "neglect" but would fetch a decent price.
On October 3, 2011, McGraw-Hill announced it was selling its entire television station group to the Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Company for $212 million. The deal was completed on December 30, 2011.
Scripps immediately announced its support for the Union. The parties negotiated a transition bonus for Union members and had an agreement in place by the end of 2012.
"Scripps is spending money to rebuild all the stations," Local 54 President Dennis Csillag said. "We hope that eventually this union-busting period will be nothing more than a bump in the road and that we can help restore KGTV to its former glory by working together."
Local 54 salutes the thousands of employees and millions of viewers who were part of the first 60 years! We're looking forward to much, much more.
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Darrell Brown Lands at KSL
August 7, 2013
Darrell Brown, former president of McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, has been named president of KSL Broadcast Group, a division of Bonneville International.
Brown spent 28 years at McGraw-Hill Broadcasting in various sales and management roles, but was not retained when the group of TV stations was sold to E.W. Scripps in 2011.
Brown is a past chairman of the ABC Television Affiliates Association and has served as an executive board member of Minneapolis-based Internet Broadcasting Systems.
In his new role, Brown will oversee the day-to-day operations for KSL Television and the Salt Lake radio group, which includes KSFI FM 100.3 and KRSP 103.5 The Arrow. KSL is an NBC affiliate in DMA No. 33. It was the longtime leader in Salt Lake before slipping behind CBS affiliate KUTV.
Local 54 members will remember Brown for maintaining a failed multi-year union-busting campaign against workers at KGTV.
NLRB Members Confirmed, Ending Political Fight
August 1. 2013
The Senate has confirmed all five of President Obama's nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, marking the first time in a decade that the agency has enjoyed a full slate of confirmed board members.
The board was headed toward a shutdown in late August, leading Senate Democrats to threaten use of the so-called "nuclear option" to break a Republican filibuster over nominees. Republicans ultimately agreed to let Obama's labor board picks proceed to a vote in order to avoid a potentially historic change of Senate rules.
The Senate confirmation places three Democrats and two Republicans on the five-member board, in keeping with the tradition of a three-member majority hailing from the president's party. The Democrats are Mark Pearce, the current chairman; Nancy Schiffer, a labor lawyer from the AFL-CIO; and Kent Hirozawa, who's served as chief counsel to Pearce. The Republicans are management-side labor lawyers Harry Johnson III and Philip Miscimarra.
The last time a full board had been confirmed by the Senate was 2003. And until recently, it appeared highly unlikely that Senate Republicans would give Obama's nominees a stamp of approval.
Republicans have assailed the board under Obama for its rules and decisions seen as friendly to organized labor, even moderate-seeming ones, such as a requirement that employers hang posters notifying workers of their rights under labor law. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the board's staunchest critics, once declared that an "inoperable" board could be "considered progress."
With the board thrown in limbo due to the appeals court ruling, many workers saw their pending cases get stalled, to the benefit of the corporations. The NLRB protections apply to all workers, not just those represented by unions.
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