Nothing against my friends at CBS, but…

AT&T — which owns DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse — released a statement saying it

“offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase and the highest fee we currently pay to any major broadcast network group. CBS has refused.”

On the other hand, CBS claims it’s

“simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming” and that it’s money “to which AT&T’s competitors have repeatedly agreed.”

Those are the reasons customers of the companies shown above can’t watch CBS-owned TV stations (including some CW affiliates), other CBS affiliates, the CBS Sports Network and Smithsonian Channel.

Keep in mind, CBS is not going broke and that we cable and satellite customers are really the ones paying more.

How long can broadcast stations see viewership shrink (and even more starting today), ad dollars go elsewhere (hopefully online, specifically ThePhillyFiles.com!), yet have the audacity to expect more money in retransmission deals?

Recently, I wrote about The Big Bang Theory’s finale and showed how the number of viewers compared to M*A*S*H’s, and some other shows in the decades between, shrank drastically.

How many stations actually owned by CBS beat ABC and NBC stations in local news in their markets? (Does CBS even offer local news in Detroit, where it owns two stations?) Aren’t all of its stations’ ratings falling as I type? Doesn’t CBS spend less on its local stations than other corporate owners, with recent employee buyouts as evidence?

Is this blackout worth it for CBS in the long run when its viewers get used to watching the competition, or streaming? And pick up bad feelings? (Same story with Nexstar, doing the same thing with 120 stations affiliated with all the networks.)

The timing is pretty lousy for the one-time Tiffany Network.

As of today, CBS viewers have weeks to plan how to watch their football games. Then, the rest will have another month to figure out how they’ll watch the new TV season. (That’s if they’re still interested in old shows without new episodes since May. Forget about new shows with no attachment!)

But first, what about the one-week-old CBS Evening News with Norah ODonnell and viewers who tired of changes to CBS This Morning? Or plans for CBS to join up with Viacom again? Do any content producers or distributors want Congress getting involved?

I suggest all sides take an honest look and put greed and jealousy aside, for the greater good. Consider the American people’s airwaves and the public interest, not just shareholders’. Only alternatives will win.

Disclosure: I happily worked at two CBS-owned stations. Actually, considering duopolies (owning more than one station in a market) and a Grade B overlap (owning stations in markets next door to each other, where people living in between can pick up stations from both cities), I’ve worked for at least five: WFOR and WBFS in Miami, WTVX in West Palm Beach (since sold to Sinclair, along with two low-power stations there), and KYW-TV and WPSG in Philadelphia.

18 thoughts on “Nothing against my friends at CBS, but…

  1. GM gone at KYW-TV3: I found Brien Kennedy to be a nice guy when I worked with CBS in Miami and he was in charge of the company’s West Palm Beach stations. We only met once, at a station Christmas party.

    Unfortunately, with conglomerates, there’s only so much at a local TV station that can be controlled at the local level. That’s absolutely wrong! (How many viewers is KYW losing right now, being off DirecTV, DirecTV NOW and U-Verse? That decision wasn’t made in Philadelphia. Besides, is this *really* the right time for CBS to ask for more money to carry KYW when it’s saying the station is no good?!)

    I don’t know how much responsibility Kennedy had for massive personnel turnovers, three news directors, new content plans and the budget in his four years at KYW.

    How a Philadelphia TV station cannot keep news people amazes me. How much further up is there to go in the industry?

    TV viewers here are unique and really haven’t changed channels, or the people they watch, in four decades. KYW needs a bigger budget, and a larger staff with more Philadelphia-area natives, who are quality journalists who will stay for many years. Several dozen would kill for a job there.

    It just shouldn’t hire from the competition. CBS stations have wasted big bucks before (NY, LA, Chicago, Marc Howard) with no return on investment. And people should be called out for bad content and teases I see making air. Plus, it should keep in mind people get news on their phones.

    I believe Brien Kennedy had been let go by CBS before, but unbelievably got to return to the company. I wish him the best.

    One last point: The person responsible for CBS TV stations is Peter Dunn. He was KYW’s general manager before I left in 2004, and was Kennedy’s boss. What did he accomplish here?!

    Philadelphia Business Journal: https://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2019/07/24/executive-brien-kennedy-leaves-cbs3.html

    Insiders: The move was sudden and unexpected. https://www.ftvlive.com/sqsp-test/2019/7/25/toldja

    When Kennedy got the job in Philadelphia: https://billypenn.com/2015/08/20/can-a-cbs-corporate-golden-boy-fix-channel-3s-sinking-ratings-by-getting-you-to-watch/

    When he returned to CBS in Minnesota: https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/brien-kennedy-named-wcco-gm-42384

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  2. This non-CBS station reversed itself and invested heavily in the news product, which has substantially improved, but not fast enough – so Scripps fired its general manager, general sales manager and local sales manager all in one day.
    Scripps’ senior director of revenue strategy will serve as interim station manager. Where do you think the corporation’s focus is?https://buffalonews.com/2019/08/06/wkbw-tv-staff-stunned-as-gm-nurse-and-two-key-members-of-sales-team-are-let-go-by-scripps/

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