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NABET-CWA Supports FCC on Ownership Rule
March 12, 2014
NABET-CWA has commended steps proposed by the Federal Communications Commission to limit agreements among television stations to share or combine services. The Union called the proposals “a positive and necessary step to ensure the diversity of voices and competition” in broadcast media.
The FCC is scheduled to vote on these proposals on March 31.
In a March 12, 2014 letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said the rules were critical to “limit the ability of broadcasters to get around Commission ownership rules by creating shell/sidecar companies and shared service agreements that effectively merge the operations of two or more separately licensed stations.”
You can read the letter here.
Without question, management arrangements such as joint service agreements (JSAs) and shared services agreements (SSA’s), have resulted in the consolidation of two or more separately licensed television stations and have caused significant job loss, Joyce wrote.
Joyce cited specific examples of where shared services agreements have cost workers’ jobs and limited diversity of voice in communities. These included: Syracuse, N.Y., and Peoria, Ill.; Honolulu; Youngstown, OH; Erie, PA, and Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, PA.
In Syracuse, in 2009, the painful impact of allowing these unregulated arrangements hit home for many NABET-CWA members. That is when Barrington Broadcasting took control of Granite Broadcasting’s operations at WTVH, and virtually ran WTVH without any employees at that station, in addition to running, WSTM and WSTQ in that market. As a result of this shared service agreement, 40 workers at WTVH lost their jobs. Most of them were long-time NABET-CWA members of Local 211. This situation has now been further complicated by the sale of WSTM to Sinclair Broadcasting.
“The Commission is taking the right step by calling these arrangements what they are: an attempt to get around the Commission’s ownership rules designed to preserve localism, diversity, and competition,” Joyce wrote.
President Joyce is also scheduling meetings with FCC Commissioners and their staffs prior to the March 31 FCC vote to personally express NABET-CWA’s concerns on this issue.
Scripps 4Q Drops; Lack of Political Ads
March 4, 2014
The E.W. Scripps Co. reported fourth quarter television station revenue was $115 million, a decrease of $36.7 million from the year-ago quarter or a drop of 24.2%. The prior-year period included $56.9 million of political revenue.
Core local and national television advertising revenue rose 17%, rebounding and growing in the near absence of political spending compared to 2012.
Advertising revenue broken down by category: Local, up 15% to $63 million;
National, up 22% to $31.6 million;
Political, $2.1 million compared to $56.9 million in the 2012 quarter;
Retransmission fees, up 42% to $11.2 million;
Digital revenue increased 7.9% to $4.7 million.
Total segment expenses decreased 6.1% in fourth quarter 2013, primarily related to reductions in incentive compensation and lower marketing and promotion costs. The prior-year period included incremental marketing and promotion costs to support the launch of Let’s Ask America and The List.
Fourth-quarter segment profit in the television division was $33.8 million, down 6.9% compared to $65.3 million in the prior-year period.
Commenting on the results, Scripps Chairman, President and CEO Rich Boehne said: “Our growing television operations finished 2013 strong, rebuilding their core local and national advertising categories in the off year for political spending and delivering strong growth in retransmission revenue. We expect our core business to grow again in 2014, and with the expected strength in political advertising in the second half, television is set up for a good year."
Scripps Buys TV Stations in Detroit, Buffalo
February 10, 2014
The E.W. Scripps Co. is acquiring ABC affiliate WKBW Buffalo (DMA 52) and MNT affiliate WMYD Detroit (DMA 11) from Granite Broadcasting for $110 million.
The acquisition of WMYD creates a duopoly with Scripps' largest station, ABC affiliate WXYZ Detroit.
Upon closing, Scripps will own 21 stations reaching nearly 14% of U.S. TV homes. Its 11 ABC affiliates will reach nearly 12%.
"These stations in Detroit and Buffalo will contribute strong cash flow to our core business, expand our reach in one of our best markets, and expand our TV footprint in partnership with ABC,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman, president and CEO.
“Owning these stations also allows us to expand our newsgathering reach and our digital business and add more audiences for our original programs Let’s Ask America, The List and Right This Minute.”
The two stations together have 110 employees. Employees at WKBW are represented by NABET-CWA. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the second quarter.
Scripps and Granite also have signed a time brokerage agreement, whereby Scripps will provide four to six hours of daily programming to WMYD until the deal closes.
“These two stations are a terrific fit for our TV portfolio,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of television. “We love doing business in Detroit. WXYZ is one of our most important TV stations, and our ability to marry it with the MyNetworkTV station allows us to extend our commitment to that market and continue the conversation and the passion driving the renaissance of this great American city.
“We are equally enthusiastic about entering Buffalo for the first time in the company’s history. We have had decades of success running ABC stations along the eastern Great Lakes. We look forward to including Buffalo in our content and customer strategies that now run through Cleveland and Detroit.”
NLRB Issues New Complaints Against NBC
December 17, 2013
Region 2 of the National Labor Relations Board issued a new unfair labor practice complaint against NBC Universal this week over the issue of "content producers." The complaint cites NBC for its refusal to bargain and has set a trial date in New York before an administrative law judge for Feb. 20, 2014.
NBC had created the job title of "content producer" five years ago and unilaterally changed the wages, benefits and working conditions for about 100 newswriters, editors, and photographers at owned-and- operated TV stations in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
NABET-CWA charged that this move violated federal labor law and an NLRB regional director agreed in 2011. That decision was upheld by a three-member NLRB panel in September 2013, with NBC required to restore the wages, benefits and bargaining rights that these workers lost.
NABET-CWA called for immediate negotiations on behalf of the content producers, but NBC has refused to meet. NLRB Region 2 acted on a new unfair labor practice charge filed by NABET-CWA in late October.
These developments illustrate that the NLRB regions are functioning more fully since a five member Board was restored and a confirmed NLRB General Counsel was put into place.
"With a full NLRB in place overseeing regional activity, workers have a path to justice. This complaint was issued in just six weeks. We are confident that our members who had careers and lives disrupted by NBC's unlawful actions will soon get the justice that they deserve," said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce.
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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This website has been honored with CWA's "e-Advocacy Award" and "Members Choice Award." CWA is "The Union for the Information Age," representing 700,000 workers in communications, media, airlines, manufacturing and public service.