Wednesday, December 29, 2004

If I were still in the newspaper business, I would be enjoying this battle between Nexstar and Cable One. If Nexstar pulls the local stations off Cable One at midnight Dec. 31, more people might have to get their information from newspapers (or turn to KOAM, which by necessity, carries many more Kansas stories than either of the Joplin stations).
I am not exactly enamored with Cable One, but I have been watching for the past two years the negative effect Nexstar has had on the quality of news at KSNF and KODE and the most recent cheapening of the newscasts with blatant commercials for the company (disguised as news) attempting to stir up the viewership against Cable One has further added to that impression.
I wasn't doing The Turner Report in late 2002 when I first heard that KSNF and KODE were essentially both under the control of Nexstar. The first inkling I had was when a class at Diamond Middle School, where I was teaching creative writing and reading skills classes at the time, had KODE anchorman Jimmy Siedlecki as a guest speaker. Though Siedlecki was very open and honest with the students and answered all of their questions, I was left thinking that no good will come from this.
Mission Broadcasting owns KODE, according to FCC records, but that is just a thin veil to keep Nexstar from violating rules prohibiting ownership of more than one station in a local market. Nexstar already owns Mission Broadcasting, in almost every way a business can be possibly owned, according to filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
The following paragraph is taken from one of Nexstar's SEC filings:
"We own and operate 27 television stations. Through various local service agreements with Mission Broadcasting, Inc. ("Mission"), we currently program or provide sales and other services to additional television stations. Mission is 100% owned by an independent third party. (Note: Keep reading) Mission currently owns and operates the following television stations: WYOU, WFXP, KODE, KJTL, KJBO-LP, KRBC, KSAN, KOLR, KCIT, KCPN-LP, KAMC, KHMT, WUTR and WBAK. We do not own or control Mission or its television stations. In order for both us and Mission to continue to comply with FCC regulations, Mission maintains complete responsibility for and control over programming, finances, personnel and operations of its stations. However, as a result of our guarantee of Mission's debt and our arrangements under the local service agreements and purchase option agreements with Mission described below, we are deemed under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America ("U.S. GAAP") to have a controlling financial interest in Mission."
So Nexstar has a controlling financial interest in Mission, but doesn't own the company. That certainly is convenient. In its SEC filings, Nexstar officials say they have agreements in place to officially buy Mission's stations when it receives the FCC consent...and with FCC commissioners being appointed by a Republican administration which has favored large companies getting even larger, that consent is likely to happen.
Initially, Nexstar's intrusion into KODE was through sharing of news production, technical maintenance and security, according to the SEC documents. As of Oct. 1, 2004, KODE and KSNF now have a joint sales agreement, allowing Nexstar to control a larger share of the advertising dollars in the Joplin area.
Why should this matter? FCC regulations only specify that each station be independently programmed. Apparently, the way the news operations at KSNF and KODE have done this is to use exactly the same news footage, but put it in a different time slot on their newscasts. Essentially, the area has lost another journalistic voice. The credo at KODE and KSNF is to find the fire, find the accident, find the regularly scheduled meeting, make a trip or two to the mall, and wait for the local sheriffs to call with another meth bust. That's cheaper and those things should be a part of the news, but when they are the sole extent of the local news coverage it's the viewer who suffers.
While KSNF and KODE continue to pay bottom dollar to most of their news personnel, the same can't be said for the compensation received by the top officials at Nexstar, according to SEC sources.
CEO Perry Sook, 46, made $4,970,982 in fiscal year 2003 (nearly five million dollars). Of that total, he received $4,325,000 as a bonus! His regular salary for that year was $638,951 and he received $7,031 in other compensation.
Chief Operations Officer Duane Lammers who has been the point man for Nexstar's attack against Cable One hasn't been doing badly himself. He received a salary of $274,808, a bonus of $250,000, and $4,101 in other compensation for a total of $528,909.
And for those who didn't read this morning's Globe, Lammers has turned up the heat on Cable One, saying he no longer will accept 25 cents per month per subscriber. The price has now gone up to 30 cents per month per subscriber.

Though he has already been rebuffed at least twice in his efforts, convicted bank robber William J. R. Embrey, a former Granby resident, is taking another shot at suing the federal government, claiming that Highway Patrol officers who stopped him near Norwood on Dec. 5, 1998 and found a gun in his possession, violated his civil rights.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, asks that his sentence be tossed out. Embrey was sent back to prison after he violated the terms of his probation by having the gun in his possession.
Embrey claims he had a "personal and fundamental right" to carry the gun "for personal protection." He says that at his plea hearing on Sept. 10, 1999, he admitted only "that he possessed a firearm and that had been transported in interstate commerce." He did not admit, he said, that he was a felon or that he had prior convictions. He claims the federal government did not provide proof of those convictions, though records indicate Embry was convicted for bank robbery and kidnapping.
Embrey is serving as his own attorney.
Earlier Embrey sued the Missouri Highway Patrol officers who stopped him, Stephen L. Grass and C. N. Ponder, as well as Assistant U. S. Attorney David C. Jones, Magistrate Judge James C. England and Darryl B. Johnson Jr. Embrey, acting as his own attorney, outlined the "facts" in that petition. He said Grass and Ponder were "trolling the highways for the purpose of targeting out-of state and rental vehicles then creating and/or finding reasons to stop said vehicles for the sole purpose of searching for drugs" on Dec. 5, 1998. Embrey, 60, and his half-brother, Luie White, 51, Diamond, were charged with possession of firearms by a convicted felon following the traffic stop, according to court records. White, who was driving, initially denied knowing who Embrey was, according to a news release from the U. S. Attorney's office, but then identified him as Herbert Jensen.
After further questioning, the passenger identified himself as William Embrey. The trooper asked for permission to search the car. At that point, according to the federal indictment, Embrey began to show heart attack symptoms and asked for antiglycerine pills which he said were in the trunk of his car. Embrey has a history of heart problems.
As he got out of the car, the trooper noticed two 9 mm ammunition clips on the seat where he was sitting, according to the indictment. After putting Embrey in an ambulance, authorities said, a loaded handgun was found on the ground where he had been sitting. Three shotguns, three revolvers, more ammunition, Halloween masks, wigs, makeup, gloves, a police scanner and two-way radios were also found in the car's trunk. According to an Associated Press report, one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said state and federal authorities believed Embrey and White, who were convicted in 1980 for the 1979 robbery of the Cornerstone Bank of Southwest City, were preparing to rob another bank. The Southwest City robbery took place on March 11, 1979, when Embrey and White approached Darrell Spillers and his family at their Southwest City home and demanded money.
Spillers, a bank official, took more than $11,000 from the bank, while Embrey and White held his family hostage. They took for Oklahoma in Spillers' car, taking him with them as "insurance," in case Spillers had called the police while he was at the bank. When they reached their getaway car, they released Spillers unharmed. Embrey was later convicted in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on charges of armed bank robbery, in violation of the Federal Bank Robbery Act and kidnapping in violation of the Federal Kidnapping Act. On Sept. 19, 1980, Embrey was sentenced to two consecutive 20-year sentences. After numerous appeals were thrown out, Embrey finally struck gold in 1997 when a panel of the Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled that he should not have been convicted of kidnapping as well as bank robbery and that he was, in effect, being punished twice for the same crime. Since Embrey had already served his time on the bank robbery charge, he was released from prison. The full court of appeals later reversed that decision and Embrey was free on bond awaiting a hearing on his appeal when he was stopped near Norwood. He had been living and working in the Fargo, N. D., area since he was freed on appeal. White's efforts to appeal his kidnapping conviction were also unsuccessful...because he waited 18 years to file them. The reason he waited so long was because he had already served time and was out on probation when he was arrested in Missouri on the weapons charge.
In his earlier lawsuit, Embrey asked to be awarded $250,000 from each of the Highway Patrol officers, and asked that an injunction be issued against them to keep them from trolling and targeting out-of state and rental vehicles.
A secret settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by a Cassville man against a major Arkansas construction firm.
Joseph L. Clinkenbeard sued George's Inc., of Springdale, Ark., for wrongful dismissal. The two sides signed off on a settlement, which includes a confidentiality agreement. Clinkenbeard served as assistant human resources manager at George's' Cassville plant from November 2001 until he was fired in March 2003.
Clinkenbeard claimed he was fired after he fired an illegal alien after learning the man had supplied him with false identification. Shortly after the firing, according to Clinkenbeard, he was reprimanded by human resources manager Gerald Runkles who allegedly told Clinkenbeard "that any time he was made aware an employee was not legally qualified for work within the United States (he) was to allow the employee to continue working until the employee completed his full shift for the day."
Clinkenbeard objected and he was fired, according to the petition.
In his lawsuit, Clinkenbeard said he wanted compensation for "lost wages and benefits, lost career opportunities, (and) mental and emotional distress."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post.

Darrell Spillers is my uncle and a pretty good guy. It was like Twin Peaks there for a while.