Monday, April 03, 2006

Skycam 16 semi-grounded

There's been a few rumors floating around that WNEP is tightening its budget due to a directive from further up the food chain. The most recent order from the folks in corporate, according to a tipster, is that Skycam 16 will be semi-grounded. Only ten hours of flight time per month is allowed, the tipster says, presumably to cut down on fuel costs.

An earlier tip said there was a hiring freeze, or something to that effect. What is interesting is, shortly after that tip came in, WNEP put anchorwoman Marisa Burke in charge of producing the 6 p.m. newscast, after the previous producer was axed for misusing station resources. Is not hiring a new producer a sign of a tighter budget on Montage Mountain Road, or a sign that there's not many good producer applicants out there?

Belt-tightening at WNEP seems odd. The station's immense ratings and popularity has practically given it its own license to print money. And lest we forget about all the fancy toys WNEP has, like its own helicopter, and its fleet of microwave and satellite trucks. But times are tough across the board, whether you work for a successful station group like The New York Times Company, or a crappy station group like Granite Broadcasting.

For what it's worth, a source at WNEP declined to confirm or deny the rumors. But if we see less airtime this month for Skycam 16, then perhaps something is up...


Anonymous Tom Carten said...

When I see the Skycam shots, I often wonder, "Why did they go up for this? Just to show that they can?" IMHO, it appears to be way too often. If you have a long event (train wreck, thousands of sheep traipsing down 81, woods on fire), Skycam works. But for many shots, it seems to be, "Hey, 50, we got the toys, nyah, nyah, nyah."

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

16 has one sat truck and it's a dinosaur... not too cost-effective these days.

Sources have also said less liveshots period because of similar money woes.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

So what are these money woes WNEP is having?

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Broadcast Group makes an ass load of money. The newspaper side struggles, so Broadcast Group profits are being moved over to help out the print side.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New York Times Company has money woes.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if there is a chance that New York Times will sell off it's television stations. That makes me wonder, if they do, and lets say that a different company buys WNEP and another one buys WTKR, what will happen to WNEP's Master Control? Will they have to bring those people back to Moosic, since they are at WTKR in (someplace), Virginia?

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt WNEP will be sold. It's making money. The New York Times Company should be deciding how many money losing newspapers it needs to sell.

The company recognizes there's money to be made on the internet (it owns, it just hasn't figured out how to charge people for reading newspapers on the web.

As for the budget cuts at WNEP, I wonder how limiting helicopter use or any other expense to gather news would go over at the New York Times newspaper. Maybe it's happened, but I doubt it. Can you imagine that newspaper not spending what it takes? Maybe that's now at the expense of the broadcast people.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sources have also said less liveshots period because of similar money woes.

How does this save on money???

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NY TIMES company just bought four stations NBC had formerly owned and operated.

This could be a major shift for the dominant newspaper company.

Perhaps to kick start its new venture, the purse strings have been tightened for several months so as to balance out their approach to doing the majority of business on the TV side.

Maybe... ?

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 854am poster:
Giving up live shots can save money because staying out for the newscasts often puts the reporter or live truck photographer on overtime. They also get overtime because of travel time back to the station.

It is interesting that WNEP's news director is going along with fewer live shots and the sometimes grounding of Skycam. Previous news directors always found other ways to save money. Maybe the current news boss doesn't care or isn't as creative.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the current news boss doesn't care or isn't as creative.

Maybe they're starting to realize that they can cruise for, oh, several years, and still have nothing to worry about competition-wise. You'd have to believe that at some point, NYT management was bound to ask, "We're spending how much to do what? We don't need that huge of a lead to make what we make, give the expenses a hard trim."

My only surprise is that it's taken them so long to do this.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trimming spending because WNEP has no competition is an interesting theory. Maybe you're right, but that doesn't say much for journalism. WNEP has always wanted to do the best for the viewers. Hope that hasn't changed just because it isn't likely to lose the lofty #1 rating.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you're right, but that doesn't say much for journalism.

Sad to say, this business is about journalism less and less with each and every passing fiscal year.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where and when was it announced that the New York Times purchased the four NBC O&O's that the Peacock was trying to sell? The four stations in question are in Raleigh/Durham (NC), Columbus (OH), Birmingham (AL), and Providence (RI).

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think ya'll are over-reacting. The chopper's grounding could very well be, very simply because of rising fuel costs. We've heard of airlines grounding flights for the same reasons. The cost of fuel hurts, and not even the budget of 16 is invincible.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Geri Anne Kaikowski had an interesting take on this topic in Thursday's CV. Interesting because some of it read like a re-write of Howard's original post. At least she called ND Dennis Fisher for an update and first-person remarks.

But credit should be given where credit is due, if this honorable blog is the source.

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media General purchased the four NBC stations, not the NY Times. You may check it out at

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is WNEP looking for ways to save money beyond Skycam? Check out Talkback postings on the station's website. Viewers are accusing WNEP of broadcasting fake news with free VNR's. The initial statement from the news director is priceless. He says he's still checking out what aired. Must be a really long walk around the newsroom to find his staff.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read Kaikowski's latest offering - it gives me nothing whatsoever. Typically, she talks to management only. Typically, she takes ambiguous/doublespeak boiler-plate statements and prints them as gospel. Typically, she never bothers to find the story, whatever it might be. I'll grudgingly giver her one thing; she's consistent.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

Are Kaikowski's articles online? I can't find them on the CV anywhere.

7:16 AM  

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