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  • Karrie E. Alms: Amazing insight into the world of politics awaits any reader at pibgorn … from a Demon’s...
  • Tony: Homefield is Dynegy. Dynegy is Ameren. There Charging You twice for the same energy. Do you really thihk $.04...
  • SouthEnder: Also does anyone remember the Velvet Freeze located on Jefferson St, up the street from the Warner Homes....
  • Eric Pollitt: I flew economy class to Hong Kong for Christmas vacation, which is a 14 hour flight. When I got back...
  • Mike: Homefield has been sold to dynery. Google dynegy scandal to see who your new parent is. If this upsets you give...
  • mortified: Fun while it lasted. Godspeed!
  • aaron: your blogging will be missed but i know that your spirit of fairness will remain alive in your other...
  • Jon: CJ, your blog was a revelation and an inspiration. You have a wonderful talent that is an asset to the...
  • Billy Dennis: Of course the Chronicle is done: Screw you. The Chronicle is one of the best researched blogs...
  • Paul Wilkinson: CJ, am sorry you have ended your blog. It was well done. It seems many have given up as we keep...
  • Sharon Crews: Your voice is definitely needed in this community. Thanks for all your insights.
  • emergepeoria: Your blog is great resource to research Peoria issues. I hope you leave it up.
  • BucketHead: I was not suggesting that, I believe the both of you had very strong common sense and that lead to your...
  • C. J. Summers: Without anonymity, there is no courage among my detractors. Take a look back at the wide variety of...
  • Of course the Chronicle is done: Without Sandberg to give stores to the Chronicle there is no Chronicle.

Peoria ‘one of the worst cases of covert media consolidation in the country’

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’

WMBD-TV parent company for sale

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 [...]

WAOE adds new sub-channel

There’s a new TV channel in Peoria. Antenna TV, a new network owned and operated by Tribune Broadcasting in Chicago, is now being broadcast over-the-air on channel 59.2, a sub-channel of WAOE. “The network features classic television programs and favorite movies,” and just debuted the beginning of this year according to the network’s website. [...]

WEEK/WHOI reject offer, plan rally

From the Journal Star:

Members of the Peoria local chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists at WEEK-TV Channel 25 and WHOI-TV Channel 19 rejected what Granite Broadcasting called its “last, best and final offer.”

The vote taken on Friday was 27 to 1.

…The union plans to hold a rally [...]

Management says local news operation will remain local

In the interest of fairness, I e-mailed WEEK’s general manager Mark DeSantis yesterday, and asked him about the employees’ concerns about outsourcing our local news to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Here’s what he had to say:

[T]he one point that seems to be the most vital to the viewers of Central Illinois is that the [...]

NBC restricts online Olympic coverage to cable subscribers

I went to NBC’s official web page for Olympic coverage, hoping to see a replay of some of the events. Well, it turns out you can only watch those replays if you’re a cable subscriber–and not just a basic cable subscriber, either. So NBC, even before being purchased by cable giant Comcast, is now [...]

WMBD and WYZZ to split

Nexstar Broadcasting Group, owner of WMBD channel 31, entered into an outsourcing agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of WYZZ channel 43, on December 1, 2001. In April 2002, WYZZ added a 9 p.m. newscast, produced by WMBD’s news department.

It appears that arrangement is coming to an end.

Requests for comment from [...]

Wireless industry trying to grab TV spectrum

There’s another television drama taking place — this one is between over-the-air broadcasters and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

You may recall that TV recently went through a digital conversion. Over-the-air (OTA) broadcasters had to upgrade to digital transmitters at significant cost and switch to new broadcasting frequencies. The portion of the spectrum [...]

Why does HDTV go away when the weather is bad?

Nope, it’s not because you lose the signal. It’s because the local television stations have failed to upgrade a critical piece of equipment in their signal path: the inserter. An inserter is the thing that allows TV stations to put their logo (“bug”) and little severe-weather map in the corner of your screen, and [...]