Something crazy is on the verge of happening in southern New Jersey. When I heard about this, I almost thought it was a joke. But what I'm about to explain today is happening for real. And I must say, it's absurd.
WMGM, an NBC affiliate that operates out of Atlantic City, NJ, has been sold. That, in itself, isn't news: TV stations are put up for sale all the time. What makes channel 40's sale unique is this: the company that wants to buy the station, LocusPoint Networks, isn't in the broadcasting business. They acquire frequency spectrum space and sell it to other companies that, in turn, use it for cell phones, private communications networks, etc. The sale is still pending approval from the FCC; if it goes through, WMGM will cease operations. This will leave the entire South Jersey region without a local television station.
If you're familiar with the area, you know that Atlantic City is part of the Philadelphia market. WMGM operates under a unique situation: the area can receive a Grade A signal from WCAU, channel 10, the NBC station in Philly. It's considered a Philly market station, but doesn't have a specific market distinction. Yet, since there are no other NBC stations in New Jersey (the other portion if New Jersey is part of the NYC market), channel 40 is allowed to co-exist with WCAU. WMGM serves an area not normally covered by Philly stations, so it is essentially a split Nielsen market, meaning a portion of the larger market is treated like its own small market.
Philadelphia is the nation's 4th largest market; it's huge. While each station delivers a quality news product, the smaller communities further out from Philly, like Wildwood/Atlantic City, often times get left out of daily news coverage. This is where small market TV stations are valuable. They pick up the slack when the larger stations are focused on what's happening in the areas closer to the larger cities. Smaller market stations serve a unique and important role for folks living in more rural/outlying areas.
In February 2008, I was working as an anchor and reporter for the ABC in Jackson, TN. Jackson is an official DMA and receives most non-ABC programming from Memphis, 80 miles southeast. A string of deadly tornadoes swept through the region. WBBJ provided non-stop coverage to the people of West Tennessee. I shot footage that evening and upon arriving back to the station, answered phones for nearly six hours with my co-workers, giving information, phone numbers, damage reports, etc, to people directly affected by the storms. Nielsen numbers suggested more people in the market watched us than the Memphis stations. That single even proved to me the value of small market TV and the lifeline it provides to the people it aims to serve, areas that aren't served unless something big happens there.
And that's why the pending sale of WMGM upsets me a bit. You may be thinking the Philadelphia stations will cover the news in Atlantic City. Unless something huge happens there on a regular basis, don't expect that to happen. Smaller stations cover the city hall meetings, burglaries, crimes and other events larger stations simply do not consider "news". Just as people in and around Philly expect to see and hear what happened in their neck of the woods, the same holds true for people in smaller communities.
While channel 40 isn't technically in a small market, it serves the same purpose; losing a TV station in exchange for more 4G cellular service seems to be a terrible trade off.
Supporters of keeping WMGM up and running have set up this web site.
This isn't the first time WXXV has produced local news. Back in the late 1990s, Fox 25 News at Nine popped up to offer another choice for news in the Gulfcoast. Even though the newscast aired an hour before WLOX's newscast, it still failed.
Back in 2012, WXXV added NBC as their .2 sub-channel. NBC requires all affiliates to produce news, so I assume this is why this day has come. Still, it doesn't hurt to have more than one choice for any product, including TV news
I worked in a one station market and I must say, I sort of regret it. Why? The only other local news outlet we competed with was the newspaper. It would have been nice to go head-to-head with another station in the market. WLOX has been the lone TV news operation for half a century. Biloxi-Gulfport is the 160th Nielsen television market, with about 130,000 TV households (about 400,000 people). It's a smaller market, and although the market has access to New Orleans through cable penetration, people in those areas tend to be left out as far as local news is concerned. Local TV tends to be more valued in small markets. Even though it means competition, I'm sure the folks at WLOX are excited about News 25.
The first local newscast is slated for 5:30pm on their .2 NBC sub-channel, pushing NBC Nightly News to 6pm on tape delay, followed later by a 10pm newscast. A 9pm newscast will air on the Fox channel.
I'm anxious to see WXXV's news product. I visited their website and saw a Clip Syndicate box, which means they'll be posting video soon.
I wish News 25 the best of luck. As long as they produce quality, earnest news content, they'll stay afloat. Smaller markets tend to appreciate it more.
This a setback in what the networks see as an effort to protect their main products, their programming. However, Newscorp, the company that owns and operates 17 Fox and 10 MyTVNetwork stations across the US, has suggested a drastic solution to Aereo: pulling Fox programming from the airwaves altogether.
Speaking of the court's ruling at the annual National Association of Broadcasters gathering in Las Vegas, Newscorp COO Chase Carey said, "This is not an ideal path we look to pursue, but we can't sit idly by and let an entity steal our signal." He went on to say, "If we can't do a fair deal, we could take the whole network to a subscription model."
A large number of Americans subscribe to some kind of pay television service, whether it be satellite, cable or a fiber optic service provider like FiOS or UVerse. In order to provide these signals to their customers, television service providers must pay for the privilege to do so in the form of re-transmission fees. Makes sense, right? A cable provider sells access to a station and makes money, so should the station not be compensated? Local stations are used as a selling point for subscription TV services, so the common logic is that stations should share in those profits.
But many Americans still rely upon an antenna to watch television. Millions of Americans don't pay for television because they either can't afford it or simply choose not to. I bring this up because it helps explain how local TV makes the bulk of its money: through the sell of advertising.
In advertising, the easier access one has to an entity that distributes ads ensures that those ads reach the most people. It's a model almost every free weekly metropolitan newspaper understands: if I give away my newspaper, more people will be inclined to pick up a copy. Therefore, my advertisers have better and wider access to readers.
This model works with TV. If I can't or won't pay for TV, I know I can always take out the old rabbit ears and pull in the evening news or American Idol for free. Satellite or none, if I want to watch Criminal Minds or Scandal, it's there. And so are the ads that air with the programs.
Back to Fox. I'm calling Mr. Carey's bluff on this one; Fox pulling programming from the airwaves makes as much sense as shooting yourself in the foot. I do not see this happening. But if it did happen, where would that leave Fox as a terrestrial broadcast entity? Would Fox create another cable service like FX and move its primetime network programming there, and maintain its broadcast stations according to a different programming model? Or would the Newscorp stations simply disappear from the airwaves and be offered only to cable and satellite subscribers?
With the exception of WOGX in north central Florida, all Fox owned stations produce local news. Local news ratings are used by stations to set ad rates for local and regional advertisers. If Fox goes pay TV, that ad model would change completely, because the large portion of non-pay TV household would most likely not be willing to start paying for TV because of the loss of one local station. That's means all programming, including news and everything else, loses a chunk of its audience. Free TV means free access to advertising.
But like I said, I'm not convinced any situation like this will become a reality.
But I must touch on Aereo. Aereo claims that the reason no copyright infringement occurs is because they have thousands of "mini-antennas" that provide the signal that is streamed to each individual subscriber. The service offers all sorts of fancy bells and whistles such as time shifting and DVR space, but I must ask this: how does one take a signal from over-the-air and initially resell it to someone? The network programming is the draw here; folks aren't paying to see reruns of "My Little Pony" or Mexican soccer. The mere existence of Aereo proves the worth of local network affiliates.
Why does Aereo have the right to charge people for something that they didn't pay for and that's copyrighted? What's wrong with the networks restricting the way their programming is distributed? If the networks want local affiliates to broadcast their signal over-the-air, fine. If the affiliates want to make deals with cable companies over re-transition, fine. Isn't it only fair that Aereo pay for the right to redistribute network/affiliate programming? When will Aereo reach out to stations and work out some kind of deal? That way, everyone gets paid and everyone is happy.
This would almost be funny if not for the seriousness of the situation. Randolph Beane was waiting outside of an Orlando hospital to pick his wife up from work in his Corvette. He was later approached by his three would-be carjackers.
"Beene, 51, said one of the thieves pointed a gun at him while asking how to use the car. 'They apparently couldn't start it. I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch, because it's a standard transmission.'"
Complete story from WOFL-TV (Fox) in Orlando
"Jailers told Officer McEntire they found and removed from Saunders’ vaginal cavity “1.1 grams of marijuana packaged in a clear small plastic baggie, one blue glass tube or pipe containing a white powder residue, and metal container, key chain containing 14 small bags of a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine.” Jailers also said they found $419 cash concealed in her bra."Complete story from KAIT-TV (ABC), Jonesboro
When working in TV news, you often times come across some very "interesting" people. More often that not, they're just that; interesting. You end up recording an interview that's unusable and never goes to air, usually ending up of the Christmas tape.
But every once in a while, you come across a fellow like Kai. He's a homeless hitchhiker in the Fresno, California area. He also carries a hatchet. Add a chaotic situation with a nut claiming to be Jesus trying to plow down a utility worker with his car and beating a woman, and all of a sudden a hatchet wielding homeless dude swoops in and saves the day.
Kai's account of what went down that day is one of legendary status. KMPH (Fox) reporter Jessob Reisbeck has posted the raw interview with Kai. The package that aired on TV is wild in its own right, but the unedited one-on-one with Kai is, well, short of amazing.
Here's what aired on channel 26:
And here's what ended up on the cutting room floor (NSFW. Kai loves the F-bomb):
Internet, meet you new local news hero: Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker. He could give Sweet Brown a run for her $ bit.ly/WYBGx9— papermag.com (@papermagazine) February 5, 2013
“Kai, meanwhile, gave the greatest interview in the history of television news.” Advisory: potty mouth and hilarity. is.gd/HnYE1c— Tim Windsor (@timwindsor) February 5, 2013
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship national TV news program The National took an in-depth look at the work that went into developing BlackBerry's new phone. Inside BlackBerry is a 16 minute feature that takes a look inside the company and profiles the dynamic people behind what could very well be the comeback story of 2013.
Jeff Chirico, an investigative reporter for Atlanta's CBS affiliate WGCL, was doing a story about a man who owned a used car lot. Richard Wilder, a 43-year-old man who has operated multiple used car lots, was suspected of using his newest lot to solicit customers for his tax preparation services. So channel 46 set up a hidden camera investigation (you're probably asking, "What can go wrong with this?").
Chirico approaches Wilder for a comment at the car lot, but to no avail. Then, Wilder's father, Donald, wanted his 15 minutes of fame. He punched Chirico in the chin and knocked him to the ground.
Video from CBS Atlanta News
Again, back in 2009, I decided to relaunch The World of Shaun Fossett. It stuck around for about a year. I lost focus. After a while I stopped blogging. Then I killed it.
So here goes. This is try number 3. I promised myself and the few readers of my previous blogs that I'd try to stick around. I intend to keep my word. So stick around; I guarantee that this peek into my world will be interesting, entertaining and hopefully, enlightening. That's if I'm lucky enough, at least.