Thursday, 14 September 2017 10:49

New Orleans news: Group claims local TV station at risk with Sinclair-Tribune merger Featured

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sinclairAccording to an organization that supports local media, one New Orleans television station might be at risk should a merger be approved by the federat government. That station, WGNO, an ABC affiliate, is among other statons that have been purchased by the conservative and pro-Donald Trump leaning network of TV stations, Sinclair.

 In a press release from an organization Coalition to Save Local Media, a recent merger by Tribune and Sinclair, still needing FCC approval, puts "local trusted weather reporter at risk. The release states that "Sinclair-Tribune Merger Puts Your Local, Trusted Weather Reporter At Risk, Sinclair Broadcasting Has A Long Record of Firing Weather Anchors and Reporters and Sinclair Would Acquire New Orleans’ WGNO (ABC) In Mega-Merger"

The focus of the opposition in this press release is weather, but, according to them, the issue is broader, that is, based upon the prior dealings, the news reporters could also risk losing their jobs.

New Orleans News: How do you feel about the local New Orleans station, WGNO possibly losing its local reporters, weather staff? Tell us below:

                                     

Here is the press statement:

 
Recent weather events have underscored the importance of local, trusted weather reporters and live on the ground reporting during weather events. However, the proposed Sinclair Broadcasting-Tribune Media merger puts local weather anchors and reporters across the country at risk of being fired due to Sinclair’s record of eliminating veteran weather anchors, reporters, and resources used by newsrooms to report live and on the ground during weather events such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, and snow storms. 
 
“In times of fire, flood, ice, earthquake or civil unrest, public safety personnel work hand in glove with Local TV news crews to inform the public as to what is safe to do and what is unsafe,” said IATSE Local 600 Business Representative Dave Twedell.  “Given Sinclair's track record for closing down their news and weather operations, we are trying to persuade them not to take this public asset away from the community.  Buying up the competition to shut it down might make more money for Sinclair, but we think the public interestshould prevail.”
 
In Seattle, where the addition of KCPQ will give Sinclair two top stations, IATSE Local 600, the union representing the photojournalists at KOMO has made a collective bargaining proposal to keep both news rooms operational.  
 
The Coalition to Save Local Media, a diverse group of media organizations, distributors, independent networks, public interest groups, and other allies, will continue to highlight how the Sinclair-Tribune merger is not in the public interest and should be denied. 
 
“Too often we think in abstract or ideological terms about these huge media mergers,”said former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser Michael Copps. “Harvey and Irma bring it into real-life terms— people's' safety and people's' lives. Let's hope the FCC can think about in in these terms, too.”
 
“It is beyond all reason that the FCC would slip through this merger without a proper review of the impact it will have on changing longstanding media ownership rules,”said RIDE TV CEO Michael Fletcher. “These rules create safeguards to ensure coverage of important local news, weather and sports, particularly in rural areas and horse centric markets.  This merger puts too much control in the hand of one broadcast company and threatens local jobs, as well as diversity of voices and viewpoints.”

“Sinclair's plan to takeover Tribune would give it control of more than 200 local broadcast stations across the U.S, reducing local control and investments by broadcasters in the communities they cover and serve,” said Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge. “At a time when it has been made abundantly clear that families rely on local weather coverage to stay safe during emergencies and natural disasters, the Sinclair-Tribune combination would drastically curtail local weather coverage for dozens of communities.”

“While the recent storms in Texas and Florida have demonstrated the importance of local news and weather coverage, local weather reporting remains important during normal weather as well," said Brian Hess, Acting Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. “Local meteorologists provide detailed information to sports fans so they can better prepare for games. Whether it's attending the local pro team or their child's soccer game, having a trusted local source for weather is essential for their health and safety.”

 
If the Sinclair-Broadcasting-Tribune Media merger goes through, the combined company would create the single largest operator of local broadcast stations in the country, reaching 72 percent of American households. This includes over 230 television stations and more than 130 “big four” affiliated stations. A combined Sinclair-Tribune would harm localism, including by scaling back local news operations and consolidating, duplicating, or even replacing local news and weather programming. 
 
Local weather reporters are especially threatened in markets where Sinclair will acquire a new “big four” station including Seattle, Denver, Cleveland, Sacramento, St. Louis, Indianapolis, San Diego, Hartford, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Harrisburg, Grand Rapids, Greensboro (NC), New Orleans, Des Moines, Quad Cities, and more.
 
BACKGROUND: 
  • In Greensboro, North Carolina, Sinclair Fired Entire News Staff Of 22 When It Acquired WXLV. Sinclair fired the entire staff of 35 when it acquired the ABC affiliate WXLV. [Triad Business Journal, 7/28/2005]
     
  • In St. Louis, Sinclair Shut Down Entire News Operation At Acquired ABC Affiliate KDNL. Sinclair shut down the entire news operation of the ABC affiliate after acquiring the station, making it the lone “big four” affiliate in a top 25 market without a local newscast. [St. Louis Journalism Review, 11/2001]
     
  • In Oklahoma City, Sinclair Fired Entire Weather Department. Sinclair fired the entire weather department when it acquired the Fox affiliated station KOKH. [The Oklahoman, 3/13/2003]
     
  • In Pittsburgh, Sinclair Fired A Veteran Weathercaster And 25% Of The Newsroom. When Sinclair acquired Pittsburgh Fox affiliate WPGH, they fired 25% of the staff including a veteran weathercaster and several key reporters. [Post Gazette, 4/23/2003]
     
  • In Rochester, Sinclair Fired Entire Weather Anchor Team After Acquiring Station. Sinclair fired the entire weather anchor team when it acquired the Fox affiliated station WUHF. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 2/12/2003]
     
  • In San Antonio, Sinclair Fired Veteran Back Up Weather Anchor After Acquiring Station. Sinclair fired two-decade veteran backup weather anchor Robert Luna when it acquired the Fox affiliated station KABB. [San Antonio Express, 1/25/2017]
     
  • In Toledo, Sinclair Moved News Operations Out Of Ohio, Fired Longtime Chief Meteorologist. Sinclair acquired the WNWO and decided to move its Toledo news operation out of Ohio and produce it out of South Bend, Indiana as well as fired longtime chief meteorologist Norm Van Ness [Scott Jones, Sinclair Cuts Back Ohio Newscast, FTVLive (Feb, 20, 2017)]
     
  • Sinclair Has History Of Eliminating Satellite Truck Operators, Hurting Live Coverage Of Local Weather Events. Sinclair has a history of eliminating satellite truck operators at local news stations, hurting station’s ability to report on the ground local weather events live. For example Sinclair eliminated three at KOMO in Seattle and two at KATU in Portland after acquiring the stations. [AdWeek, 10/22/2013]

 

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