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TV Blog

KSL's New Strategy: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Buy 'Em!

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2011-05-04 -

If the bombardment of news promos last Thursday over your primetime programming didn't clue you in, it's officially May Sweeps for the big four stations we have in town. And while everyone is busy alerting you to the scary shit they should have alerted you to when it happened (instead of now when they can charge advertisers triple), there's at least one station who's been playing hardball behind the camera since late February.

KSL News has reportedly been raiding KUTV's talent pool with nothing more than the promise of a slightly bigger paycheck and the equivalent of a “promotion” from the title those individual employees currently have. After losing to 2News's team for two ratings periods in a row, Deseret Management Corporation (the for-profit arm of the LDS Church) apparently gave the go-ahead for Bonneville to start shopping for replacements out of KUTV's stable, in an effort to revitalize their organization and become more competitive. Once again, bowing to the old television standard set in place since the '50s: “Need new ideas? Steal your competition's.” As of this post it can be confirmed that they've currently taken KUTV's former operations manager, and at least three other employees from lower crew positions previously overseen by that manager.

However, on the flipside of this coin, if you're an employee from KUTV... that's not exactly a bad move to make. Ever since CBS Corp. sold the former O&O station to Cerberus Capital Management (who in turn created a sub-division called Four Points Media, only to make a deal with Nexstar to run it and eventually purchase it) the station has undergone several rounds of layoffs over a three year period along with frequent insurance changes and paycuts, not to mention the outright refusal to offer yearly raises or formal promotions. Forcing many employees to take lower wages while doing three times the work. So in retrospect, if you started as say... a news editor, and over the past three years you've been forced to also become a promotional editor/production crew member/master control operator to fill for laid off people, AND you haven't received a raise since 2007... Chances are you'd take a $1 raise to become a “Lead Editor” too.

After this post you probably won't hear much about this (or receive flat-out denial) until 2012, because at the moment KSL is only fishing for behind-the-scenes people. You know, the ones who work their asses off and aren't even given credit in the show for the work they do. That's because most of the on-air talent we have in SLC (those who would normally garner this kind of attention for trading stations) are tied to contracts that include non-compete clauses, which will keep them off local air for a period of time once they expire, as opposed to hourly employees who could change jobs in a 24 hour period without hassle. As of right now via KUTV email chatter, it appears KSL has approached at least two editors, two engineers, two production crew members, two producers, a control room operator, a show director, a traffic coordinator and (the coup de grace that no one can officially confirm yet by name) at least two on-air talent with contracts due to expire within the year.

So what does this all
really mean for local news? ...Who the hell knows. No one can officially say whether employing a certain group of people will make a difference, any more than they could say if they didn't hire them and kept the course it would all come full circle. But if you go back and ask any station's staff at the time about any single campaign or brand change or spending spree, all done in the name of ratings; they'll all come back and tell you that no one singular event or person caused a turnaround and changed everything. And KSL's management team are not stupid, they know this, they're all experienced individuals who have gone through this same kind of process at other news stations. So why go to such great lengths to buy up a bunch of people in the hopes that it will make a difference by November? Well... you gotta remember... they're all looking at a smaller picture.


***For full disclosure's sake, I worked for KUTV from August 2004 to November 2010.***

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Post a comment
REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 11,2011 at 18:13

"Competetive greatness"? Giving away a pile of fucking iPads? I don't see any refuting going on here, either.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 9,2011 at 18:10

Gavin, if you ever want to do an article about how KUTV has created an enviornment fof competitive greatness, give me a call. You may have noticed that KUTV is the dominate News station and dominate over-all station in UTAH. Must be a reason. The Reason is simple- we have the best team of people.
Would love a sit down to set the record straight Let me know. Your friend- Steve

 

Posted // May 10,2011 at 18:50 - I know what the article was about. They have taken two people. Lets set the meeting, it will be good to catch up and I can share my thoughts-And thanks for noticing the wins- as Charlie Sheen would say "winning'

 

Posted // May 9,2011 at 20:54 - Absolutely, I'm down for that. And if you look back at the top, I did mention that you beat them two sweeps periods in a row, and by the looks of the ratings sheets, you're winning round 3. But to be perfectly fair to all involved, the piece isn't about ratings, it's about what's been happening in response to ratings. Being #1 does not automatically mean every single employee is happy, nor does it mean your main competition wouldn't make it worth their wild to jump ship. But I'm happy to discuss it all on every front with you. ...We'll chat more soon.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 5,2011 at 08:49

Oh yeah because when people watch the news they watch it for the editing and promotional production. That's what I say after a newscast...that was some fine editing tonight. Please...I'm just tired of all this facebook giveaway crap. That is where the buying is going on. You couldn't give away stuff in the past or you would have an asterisk on the ratings book and the day wouldn't count, now it doesn't matter. The bigger deal is why is KSL having lame blogs attached to their web stuff, who cares?! Is that what people are looking for. The future is all online but I don't care about a bunch of lame blogs.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 4,2011 at 14:19

What happened to the daily TV picks? Don't tell me they are toast.

 

Posted // May 4,2011 at 15:10 - It'll be back--maybe even today.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 4,2011 at 11:37

I used to steal employees from all stations! And they would come, some for the silliest reasons. They all had an axe to grind with their former employer and that almost always translated into becoming our problem eventually. KUTV's news director went over to KSL just in time to see her alma mater go #1 and her new boss go #2 under her watch. KSL has a deep, endearing tradition of hiring way too many people and that evolves into having too many middle managers and that evolves into mass killings every couple of years. But worry not, after you get killed in the next round of lay-offs, they'll issue a press release about how unfortunate it was that they killed you, but how "excited" they are about the future. . .the one without you.

In full disclosure, I worked for every station in this town over a 20 year period with one notable exception because they sucked then as badly as they do now. Just wanted to "4-Warn" you.

 

 
 
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