Keep your eyes on TV6 and Fox UP in the weeks ahead. The Sinclair Broadcast Group recently bought WLUC, which operates both TV6 and Fox UP, and now the employees are waiting to see what happens next. Who’s going? Who’s staying? Any programming changes? It’s fair to say there’s an air of nervousness in the halls of the station.
On the other hand, a big, well-funded broadcast group (Sinclair now owns 164 stations nationwide) just might decide to pour some money into one of its newest acquisitions.
Of concern to some employees and U.P. viewers: Sinclair has a controversial reputation when it comes news and politics. Back in 2004 on its ABC stations, it refused to air a Nightline segment that dramatically listed all of the dead soldiers from the Iraq war. Later that year, just before the presidential election, 62 of its stations preempted prime time programming to air a documentary highly critical of Democratic candidate John Kerry.
And in 2010 a handful of its stations aired an anti-Obama infomercial.
Partisan politics, news and business can make for a toxic mix.
Let’s hope the local news coverage here doesn’t suffer (Maybe it expands!) and everybody keeps their jobs. Too often, these big broadcast groups come in to a small market and say all the right things…and the next thing you know, they’re tightening the purse strings and booting people out the door.
Speaking of TV6, still no word on whether current and former news employees will be getting a lump sum for back pay.
In case you hadn’t heard, the US Department of Labor came to town a couple months back and interviewed several news employees and determined they weren’t making adequate salaries for the hours they worked.
Shortly afterwards, salaries for beginning employees were boosted from around $18,000 to $23,000 plus. A nice little hike that put smiles on the faces of the news kids.
Back pay? Nothing announced so far.
Full disclosure: I was the news director at WLUC from 2004 to 2011 and tried, probably not hard enough, to get salaries raised. The reasoning behind the paltry pay? If young, ambitious reporters were willing to accept a miserable salary, it wasn’t management’s role to insist they take more. Business is about making profits.
Did you see the Jim Harrison article in the Sunday New York Times? Pretty damn flattering. Before moving to Montana, he lived in Grand Marais and often visited Marquette.
He had especially kind words for The Landmark Inn (“a hotel of New York standards”) and the Vierling (“a restaurant I would visit every day”). It’s priceless advertising to a national audience that has money and may not have heard of the UP until now.
Harrison hasn’t been back here in a few years but he’s fondly remembered for his sparkling conversation and his fine taste in food and drink.
As for paid advertising, did you know that Marquette County has been promoted on the jumbo screen in Times Square in New York City?
It’s just a four second spot every hour but it’s a huge invitation, complete with photos, to come visit Marquette County. It’s already been up twice this summer, again on Thanksgiving, and then again this coming New Years Eve. It plays for several days around those dates.
Pat Black of the Visitors and Convention Bureau is the brains behind the campaign. She wants to play with the big boys.
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