Thursday, December 18, 2008

Anything For a Buck

Ah,three days off. A chance to clean up the various messes left untended (laundry, bills, housecleaning) while taking care not to neglect blogging.

I turned on the TV expecting to see KSFY's 11:30 news and instead got a "paid program", as they are called in the business, otherwise known as a 30-minute commercial. Unlike programs which produce revenue via ratings/based ads, the company that produces these shows pays the station a flat fee up front to air them. I recall occasionally preempting weekend NBC news at KEVN for such shows, but never the local news. My guess is the KSFY news department isn't feeling too good about this. It seems to be a clear message from management that the news isn't important enough to avoid being kicked aside for an ad for,in this case, an educational computer program.

I assume the company wrote a fairly large check to get this done, but it still seems to be short-sighted. Local news establishes the personality of a station; in this age of cable and satellite, it differentiates it from other channels that offer the same programming (ABC, in KSFY's case). It's also pretty much the only meaningful public service provided by the station. If the viewers can't count on it, they'll take their custom elsewhere. Then it becomes a matter of time before the news department goes away, and the station is just another programming outlet like any crappy cable channel.

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