As promised at Tuesday’s council meeting, the City has released maps showing how the City might look with eight or ten council districts instead of five. Here’s the explanation:
The Ad Hoc Committee of the City Council on Redistricting conducted several public meetings regarding criteria and possible maps for new boundaries of five City [...]
Yesterday, at the height of Speaker Boehner’s attempt to convince his fellow Republicans to approve his debt ceiling plan, the House instead voted on a bill sponsored by Rep. Aaron Schock:
House leaders have delayed a scheduled vote on the debt ceiling plan offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner, a possible acknowledgement that [...]
Here’s what we know so far:
[From the Journal Star:]
Peoria 5th District City Councilman Dan Irving was charged Thursday with patronizing a prostitute, a felony that could send him to prison for up to three years.
Irving, 43, of 10708 Alex Drive faces three felony counts accusing him of engaging in sexual activity [...]
Since December 15, 2008, when the City Council first passed the $39 million redevelopment agreement for the Marriott Hotel deal downtown, 955 days have elapsed. That’s a little over 2.6 years for a project that had to be passed that night — after only two days of public disclosure and without any public input [...]
It’s the last Tuesday in July, and time once again for the Peoria City Council meeting. We’re in Room 400 of City Hall, and the meeting begins at 6:15. As usual, I’ll be reporting and commenting on the meeting in real time, so refresh your browser often if you’re following along at home. You [...]
The media reform group FreePress has a campaign called Change the Channels, and it is currently profiling our fair city, saying, “Peoria, Illinois is suffering from one of the worst cases of covert consolidation in the country; all five of its commercial TV stations produce just two distinct newscasts and are controlled by only two companies.” Those two companies, of course, are:
- Granite Broadcasting, which owns and operates WEEK (channel 25) and, through a local marketing agreement (LMA), operates WHOI (channel 19) and WAOE (channel 59)
- Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which owns and operates WMBD (channel 31) and, through an LMA, operates WYZZ (channel 43)
They go on to say, “This situation is unacceptable. Two newsrooms simply cannot provide Peoria…with the amount of local news coverage and diversity of perspectives that residents need to stay informed.”
Of course, most of this isn’t news to the residents here in Peoria, but they did have one other claim that I hadn’t heard before: “Three of those stations, WEEK, WHOI and WAOE, are part of an anti-competitive conspiracy that spans two states.” They explain:
Granite’s Shared Services Agreement with Barrington Broadcasters is a particularly outrageous anti-competitive conspiracy between the two companies. Each company owned one station in the Peoria market, as well as one station in the Syracuse, N.Y., market. In order to avoid competing with one another in both markets, they simply “swapped” control of the stations, yielding these comparable markets completely to their former competition. This shady deal cost more than 30 jobs in Peoria (along with 45 in Syracuse), destroyed competition and left viewers in both communities with less local news.
Note that phrase: “to avoid competing with one another.” Barrington Broadcasting owns WHOI in Peoria, and when they were producing their own news program, it was unique in the Peoria area, often including investigative reports and stories that the other stations weren’t covering. Once Barrington and Granite entered into an LMA, the reporters were fired and the anchors moved to a set in the same building as WEEK. Now the WEEK and WHOI news programs are nearly identical.
Granite is now in a dispute with the Peoria chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) over contract language that would give Granite “jurisdictional flexibility” — something they could use to move the anchor jobs to their central broadcasting hub in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for example. The local general manager denies the company has any plans to do so, but he won’t explain why the company insists on having the “jurisdictional flexibility” language in the contract. Granite imposed the contract, and AFTRA has filed a grievance.
The Change the Channels campaign is asking those opposed to these kinds of shared services agreements (which they call “covert media consolidation”) to write to the Federal Communications Commission and ask them to put an end to the practice.
The rules are supposed to protect localism, diversity and competition on the public airwaves, but in almost 80 markets across the country, these rules have been circumvented. Media companies have taken advantage of loopholes to covertly consolidate more than 200 stations, colluding rather than competing in order to cut costs.
As a result, communities are getting less local news than ever before. When the exact same news is aired on several stations, fewer stories told, fewer viewpoints are presented, and the public airwaves are wasted on copycat broadcasts.
Continue reading Peoria ‘one of the worst cases of covert media consolidation in the country’
Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., the parent company of WMBD channel 31 and the operator of WYZZ channel 43 here in Peoria, is for sale. The company issued a press release on July 21 that stated:
Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXST) announced today that its Board of Directors has decided to explore and evaluate [...]
“With the City of Peoria facing another difficult budgeting process, no area of the budget can be ignored for potential savings,” City Manager Patrick Urich explains in an item from Tuesday’s agenda. “In line with Council’s direction to examine all costs, the Administration is seeking authorization to approach City service providers with a request [...]
The City of Peoria has been awarded a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for $1,558,107 that can be used to hire nine new firefighters. According to the council communication, “The grant covers both salary and benefits for the firefighters” for two years. The council will vote on accepting the grant at Tuesday’s [...]
No, not the criminals that are shooting at buses or committing armed robbery. The police are busy finding the real, hardened criminals in Peoria: Smokers.
Yes, when I survey the crime being committed in Peoria, I would have to put “smoking in bars” at the top of my list. How can city residents [...]