Friday, December 17, 2004

The Dec. 31 deadline for reaching an agreement between CableOne and Nexstar, owners of Channels 12 and 16 in Joplin is rapidly approaching and the rhetoric is increasing with the passing of each day.
I am not necessarily a fan of cable TV operators, but when I see clear evidence day after day of how the local television stations have put their pursuit of money ahead of their viewers, I have no sympathy for KODE and KSNF at all.
Since Channels 12 and 16 came under the same umbrella a couple of years ago, we have essentially been stuck with one voice from those two stations. They cover the same news stories, often using exactly the same footage.
Several years ago, Randee Kaiser, Amy Lamb, and I taped three days worth of six o'clock news on the three local stations, then broke those broadcasts down into how many minutes the stations spent on news, weather, sports, meaningless chatter, and advertising. At that time, Channel 7, KOAM-TV, had the most local news per half hour with a paltry seven minutes and 23 seconds, if memory serves me.
I would not be surprised if that number is even lower now, even on the ten o'clock newscast, which has an extra five minutes.
Not only do 12 and 16 have the same owners, but Channel 7 and the new FOX station, Channel 14, in Joplin, also share a common news team. Instead of four local voices offering viewers variety and choice, we have two choices, which usually do not offer us much.
If Nexstar would guarantee us distinct voices between its two channels and promise to pay its news team enough to be able to train talent, then keep it in Joplin, their attempt at extortion might be a little easier to swallow.
There is no doubt they are making the money already to do better by their employees and their viewers, and with this extra money, they would have no excuse whatsoever to continue the bottom-drawer newscasts they are putting forth now.
Joplin is on the bottom rung of television markets in the U. S. It is the best place that people go for their first TV job, then go on to other places. Some of that will continue even if salaries and benefits are increased, simply due to the lure of the big city. But you would find some talented people who would be willing to stay here for a decent salary because they like this area.
Apparently, the only people who are raking in the bucks are the male news anchors at these stations. You can cover up a lot of mistakes with a professional, experrienced anchor, something Jim Jackson has been proving at KSNF for the past two decades.
I would miss getting my weather on the local stations if they carry through with their threat (even though my understanding is that Cable One is going to provide antennas so its customers can see Channels 12 and 16), but I could get decent weather on KOAM.
Law and Order, on the other hand, I would have a hard time doing without, but heck, those reruns will be on TNT before long.
The local TV stations need to put their viewers in front of their wallets for a change.

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