CNN Balks at NLRB Decision
September 15, 2014
After 11 years, CNN employees finally have a measure of justice. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Monday found "overwhelming" evidence of anti-union animus at the cable news giant and ordered it to "make whole" more than 300 employees who lost their jobs and the benefits of union representation in the wake of the company’s phony reorganization scheme to get rid of unionized workers.
"On behalf of our CNN members in Washington, D.C. and New York City, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA) is grateful for today's decision by the National Labor Relations Board,” said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce. “These workers have waited far too long for this measure of justice to finally be delivered and have suffered far too much as the result of these unlawful activities. CNN should finally do the right thing now and immediately comply with the orders of the National Labor Relations Board issued today."
"CNN disagrees with the NLRB decision and we are evaluating our options," the company said in a statement.
CWA President Larry Cohen said, “All of us in CWA should be proud of our work and the coalition that helped support senate confirmation of the NLRB members in July 2013. Without a functioning NLRB this decision would never have been possible. But today belongs to the 300 technicians and their families, and our hearts and minds are with them.”
The NLRB ordered that CNN rehire about 100 workers and compensate 200 more employees, who continued to work at the company without the benefits of a union contract, on the order of tens of millions of dollars.
CNN is required to restore any bargaining unit work that was outsourced since the end of the contracts. The company also must recognize the employees’ union and resume bargaining with NABET-CWA Local 11 and NABET-CWA Local 31.
“Today is a good day to stand up straight,” said Tyrone Riggs, who lost his job in 2003. “I never gave up hope. I never wavered. I knew justice would prevail.”
In December 2003, CNN terminated its longstanding technical subcontracting relationship at Team Video Services (TVS), a firm which had employed NABET-CWA-represented workers in Washington, D.C. and New York City. The union immediately filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, which, due to various delays, were not brought to trial before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the NLRB for almost five years.
Finally, in November 2008, after 72 days of trial, the ALJ ruled against CNN and in favor of NABET-CWA. The ALJ found, in part, that CNN had engaged in “widespread and egregious misconduct” and had demonstrated “a flagrant and general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.” The ALJ’s 169-page decision ordered the employer to take seven basic actions to remedy the widespread violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
Yet, CNN ignored the decision and delayed justice further by appealing the ALJ’s ruling. Two years later, in October 2010, CWA filed another motion with the NLRB, calling on the board to give this case priority over all other pending cases.
In 2013, the company took its obstruction a step further by challenging the NLRB’s legal authority, after a federal appeals court created uncertainty over recess appointments of three members to the NLRB.
Delays in the case took a terrible toll on workers who have lost their homes, gone bankrupt and struggled to pay their medical bills while they awaited justice. And this remediation comes too late for a number of workers who have since passed away.
Scripps, Journal Communications Merge
August 1, 2014
The E.W. Scripps Co. and Journal Communications have agreed to merge their broadcast operations and spin off and then merge their newspapers, creating two separately traded public companies.
The merged broadcast and digital media company, based in Cincinnati, will retain The E.W. Scripps Co. name, and the Scripps family shareholders will continue to have voting control. The company will have approximately 4,000 employees across its television, radio and digital media operations and is expected to have annual revenue of more than $800 million.
The newspaper company will be called Journal Media Group and will combine Scripps’ daily newspapers, community publications and related digital products in 13 markets with Journal Communications’ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin community publications and affiliated digital products. The company, with expected annual revenue of more than $500 million and approximately 3,600 employees, will be headquartered in Milwaukee.
The Scripps and Journal Communications boards of directors have approved the stock-for-stock transactions, which are subject to customary regulatory and shareholder approvals.
The deal is expected to close in 2015.
When the deal closes, current Scripps shareholders will own 69% of the new Scripps broadcast company and 59% of the new Journal newspaper company. Current Journal shareholders will own the remaining minority stakes in the two companies.
Scripps shareholders of record just prior to the closing will receive a $60 million special dividend.
The companies project about $35 million in combined transaction synergies in the near term.
The new Scripps broadcast company will become the 11th largest TV station group in terms of revenue and the 5th largest in terms of reach, operating 34 stations in 24 markets covering 18% of U.S. television households. It will also operate 35 radio stations in eight markets, all former Journal properties.
Expansion of its station group portfolio also positions Scripps to benefit from increasing retransmission revenue and political advertising, particularly in eight presidential swing states.
Emmy Awards Sweep
June 15, 2014
Local 54 congratulates our members and colleagues working at 10News for receiving 12 Emmy Awards, including a sweep in the categories of Morning, Evening and Weekend newscasts.
Other awards included Journalistic Enterprise, General Assignment Report, Investigative Report, Human Interest Story, Education Story and On-Camera Talent.
The 40th Anniversary Emmy Awards, celebrating excellence in the Pacific Southwest Region, were held at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa on June 14th.
Scripps 1Q TV Station Revenue Grows 5.4%
May 9, 2014
The E.W. Scripps Co. reports that its television station revenues in the first quarter of 2014 were up 5.4% to $102 million, driven by strong local advertising, retransmission revenue growth and higher-than-expected political advertising revenue of $2.7 million as well as $1.7 million in incremental 2014 Winter Olympics advertising on its three NBC-affiliated stations.
Retransmission fees from cable and satellite providers increased 19.5% to $12.5 million. In 2014, the company will renegotiate retransmission agreements covering more than one-third of its subscribers.
Advertising revenue broken down by category was: Local, up 3.7% to $55.6 million;
National, down 5.5% to $25.4 million;
Political, $2.7 million compared to $300,000 in the 2013 quarter;
Retransmission fees, up 19.5% to $12.5 million; Digital revenue increased 17% to $4.4 million.
Profit in the television division was $21 million, up 27.2% from $16.5 million in the year-ago quarter.
The company has a whole reported consolidated revenues of $204 million, up 2.6% or $5.1 million, primarily due to the increases in retransmission revenue, political advertising and newspaper subscription revenue.
Commenting on the results, Scripps Chairman, President and CEO Rich Boehne said: “The political season already has been good to us. A better-than-expected kick-off from a special election in Florida helped drive up television operating revenues, which also were boosted by a strong local advertising climate and a rise in retransmission revenue.
“Our digital team oversaw the launch of what could be the first paid digital content service in the broadcast TV industry. Following investments in content, functionality and sales infrastructure, we’re now able to use the WCPO.com Insider service in Cincinnati to better test and model the opportunity for local television brands. This service will let us better meet the needs and desires of our digital-only media consumers. We’re off to a great start and already learning lessons about how to better build value in TV markets through digital services.”
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.”
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.