Archive for the ‘KUSA’ Category

NYT: As TV ratings plunge, it’s anchors away

December 1, 2008

Some on-air talent in top markets can still command million-dollar salaries — like Chuck Scarborough on WNBC in New York, The New York Times says today in a new story. But the high-profile jobs are becoming more vulnerable to market forces roiling local TV, analysts say. “The ratings for the broadcasts have gradually eroded over the years,” the story says. “The typical late newscast now reaches 12% of viewers watching TV in a given market, down from 21% 10 years ago.”

In October, Gannett’s KUSA-TV in Denver dumped anchor Bob Kendrick (left); he’d been with the station since 2003. The month before, WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C., didn’t renew anchor Todd McDermott‘s contract; he was reportedly paid at least $500,000 a year.

Has your GCI station dropped a pricey anchor? Please post replies in the comments section, below. E-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

KUSA-TV staff gets buyout offer; layoffs threatened

November 21, 2008

The Denver NBC affiliate is offering a voluntary severance program to some employees age 55 and up with at least 10 years’ service, General Manager Mark Cornetta said in a memo. As is often the case, the deal comes with a warning: “If the voluntary offer does not result in a sufficient number of volunteers, or if business conditions worsen, it may be necessary to consider other expense reductions, including layoffs.”

Have any other Gannett TV stations recently offered buyouts? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

KUSA-TV anchor out; more on-air talent at risk

October 29, 2008

The 23 TV stations (or is it now 22?) in the broadcasting division aren’t immune to this week’s job reductions. In what a reader says will be the first in a wave of news anchors getting the boot, Denver’s KUSA-TV just dumped Bob Kendrick (left); he’s been with the station since 2003.

“He’s the first in a few that will be rightsized in the next few weeks,” a reader says. “Now, he wasn’t outright fired, but he was told his contract would not be renewed. This sucks for Bob, since he’s a talented newsman, and well-liked in the newsroom. When we signed him five years ago, he had an offer from MSNBC, but took Denver because of the quality of life over New Jersey.”

My reader continues: “This is going to be happening across Gannett TV this week. Last May, the broadcast TV scumbags made a tour across the U.S., and called for ‘focus groups’ to watch the talent at each station. They gave a bullshit reason for doing it, but even then we knew it was to cull the herd. Call in your other broadcast informers – it’s going to be a lousy week for TV anchors!”

Earlier: WUSA-TV saves $500,000 with one-anchor desk

Layoffs hit the TV division, too; details, please!

August 27, 2008

[Cutting staff? Screenshot of WBIR-TV’s website in Knoxville, Tenn.]

Gannett’s 23 TV stations are eliminating jobs in a new wave of layoffs that apparently mirrors the cuts just enacted at the company’s newspaper division, Gannett Blog readers tell me. I’m now looking for more details about the scale of this reduction, including the targeted number of jobs to be eliminated, and the date when this campaign began. (See my questions, below.)

Here’s one of the latest notes I’ve received: “Gannett broadcasting is ‘restructuring’ its broadcast operations. I know this for a fact; I was re-organized right out of a job at the Knoxville, Tenn., station. Master control at all the TV stations is being centralized in either Jacksonville, Fla. (NBC and ABC), or Greensboro, N.C. (CBS). Graphics is being centralized in Denver — and graphic artists have been laid off at all the stations, with the 10 largest stations retaining one artist. All the news graphics will done by the news producers and reporters via an automated graphics system (can anyone say, lots of typos?)

“At my former station, at least 13 people (out of 130) have been laid off, including my boss. He was in charge of programming, new media and commercial production. All of us in commercial production were laid off: Two were turned into ‘backpack’ client-services producers and moved into sales. They are being managed by a GSM who doesn’t think quality is important. (‘Everyone just watches it on YouTube or their phone, so quality isn’t important.’ She actually said that to me! Gee, then why is everyone buying those HD, plasma-screen monitors? Don’t you think they want to see pretty pictures?)

“So, my friend, newspapers aren’t the only ones feeling the pain. The TV guys are taking it on the chin, as well.”

Did broadcasting division President Dave Lougee (left) notify employees in a memo? (If so, can you shoot it my way?) Or did he follow newspaper division chief Bob Dickey‘s example, and leave the dirty work to individual station managers? Please post replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Earlier: Layoffs at WLBZ-TV. Plus: Graphics group a ‘clusterfuck’

Tip: Broadcasting’s graphics group a ‘clusterfuck’

July 14, 2008

Two months after Gannett’s 23-station TV division started consolidating graphics production near Denver’s KUSA at the Gannett Graphics Group — or G3 — an employee says the transition has been, uh, rough. “It’s hopelessly mired in politics and positioning by the TV general managers who all want ‘THEIR GUY/GAL’ to be the one running it,” my tipster says. “The space is being built, the computer systems are in from Apple and sitting in the warehouse, but NO ONE has been hired to run this circus. One person (name withheld to protect him) is trying to build the department, supervise the graphics being built by AXIS and the design studio doing the Gannett new look, and try and appease all the morons back in Virginia who keep chewing on his ass. This is going to be a classic clusterfuck: They’ll hire people far too late to train them, have an AD who will try and secretly serve his old boss at station X, and have no time to plan or organize the systems they’ll need to have in place once 22 TV stations’ worth of work starts rolling in in October.”

Earlier: Lougee letter hints at broadcasting job cuts

Can anyone confirm — and add details? Post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Federal judge dismisses class-action pension suit

July 11, 2008

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch of Denver (left) has handed Gannett an important victory, granting a summary judgement dismissing claims by three KUSA-TV employees that GCI’s pension plan changes in 1998 discriminated on the basis of age. I’m still waiting for one of the employee attorneys to respond to my message, seeking an update on the class-action lawsuit filed in December 2003. It’s conceivable that the employees will appeal Matsch’s six-page decision, on July 1. But we’ll have to wait for their attorneys to make that call. (The case is Civil Action No. 03-cv-02671-RPM.)

Earlier: In Gannett pension freeze, ‘screwed’ again

[Hat tip to a reader, who found Matsch’s decision]

Your reactions, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Pension freeze: Questions about lawsuit over plan

June 20, 2008

Gannett’s surprise move last week to freeze its retirement plan comes in the wake of a crucial federal court decision two years ago, granting class-action status to a lawsuit that claims age discrimination over how GCI changed the plan in 1998.

Until now, dopey yours truly forgot to remind you about the U.S. District Court lawsuit in Denver, which I wrote about this spring. I’ve e-mailed one of the lawyers representing three KUSA-TV employees in Denver, who filed the original complaint about four years ago. I asked the attorney at Denver law firm Hill & Robbins whether the freeze had any impact on the suit. I’ll let you know more, if I hear more.

I’m now embarrassed that I didn’t write more about the likelihood Gannett would some day freeze the retirement plan. I’d been expecting that for years, and stupidly figured you, too, knew the plan’s days were numbered. But based on the dozens of comments you’ve written here, I now stand corrected.

Department of Better Late Than Never
Some helpful links, courtesy of an eagle-eyed Gannett Blog reader:

  • Protect yourself from pension freezes. This 2005 column by USA Today‘s Sandy Block (hi, Sandy!) offers a helpful primer.
  • A Q&A about freezes. It’s by the non-profit Pension Rights Center, which bills itself as the nation’s only consumer group dedicated to “protecting and promoting the retirement security of American workers, retirees and their families.”

[Image: Neat Plates]

In N.J. layoffs, fresh evidence of the new Gannett

May 30, 2008

It sure is something to watch CEO Craig Dubow dismantle a 102-year-old company right before our eyes: rendering newspapers at corporate chop shops, while shipping untold jobs to low-wage countries — all in a shaky bid to keep Wall Street at bay.

Only yesterday, Dubow & Co. was at it again: laying off a steep 55 employees at the Asbury Park Press and three other New Jersey dailies — part of a regional group that’s lately appeared on the edge of freefall. And yet, the N.J. papers are only the latest to be swept up in what I imagine is now Gannett’s biggest retrenchment since World War II. (Dubow, to be sure, has been retailing it on Wall Street as the more April-fresh sounding transformation.)

In Phoenix, Arizona Republic workers are weighing a buyout offer that one of my readers says stinks. In Westchester, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla., and beyond, advertising-production artists are terrified of being the next to lose jobs to Los Angeles-based 2AdPro, which is shipping their work to India as fast as Gannett will allow.

In the Broadcasting division, Gannett is eliminating graphics jobs in favor of consolidating work at a central “art house” in Denver. And the division is now being asked to adopt a version of the Information Center model that was supposed to boost online advertising revenue when it was rolled out across U.S. newspapers last year. (Gannett has been curiously quiet about whether the strategy is working.)

These are only recent examples; I’ve omitted many others that I know — and even more I hope to uncover in any reader responses I get to this post. I’ve been writing about Gannett’s downsizing since Dubow issued that scary Sept. 11 memo last fall. It’s not at all clear whether he’s now putting his pedal on the accelerator, with even more turmoil ahead for this summer. And I’m not expecting any clarity soon on that point. Why? Nowadays, the well-paid top brass don’t have time to deal with even basic questions.

So, if you’re wondering whether Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore is about to redline your job — well, don’t look for answers from We Work in a Bubble, Va. They’re already on their third round at the Kool-Aid Bar!

Your thoughts, in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: yesterday’s Republic, Newseum]

Reader: Broadcast moves graphics work to Denver

May 16, 2008

[Mile high: Denver TV station KUSA’s homepage]

Updated at 4:24 p.m. PT: A reader now says the company producing the “mundane” graphics discussed below is Chyron of Melville, N.Y. Stock picker Jeff Smith at Seeking Alpha wrote about Chyron’s growth prospects in March.

Updated at 10:11 a.m. PT: TVSpy now says as many as 50 employees were affected by what the broadcast trade site is calling “bloodletting at Gannett.”

Earlier: The TV division is consolidating graphics production for its 23 stations at a single new facility to be called Gannett Graphics Group, or G3, in Denver, a Gannett Blog reader says. As part of that move, Broadcasting laid off a number of artists at the 23 stations yesterday, the reader says; I don’t have the exact number. Those laid off may apply for work at the new Denver facility, the reader says. Denver is home to both KUSA and KTVD.

Larger stations will keep one artist, and G3 initially will have 10 artists, the reader says: “Unlike NBC and Media General’s art houses, Gannett has entered into a deal with a company that can generate most of the mundane daily graphics automatically, letting the G3 artist concentrate on the high-end and complex animations.”

The Denver launch is part of a broader and apparently accelerating series of cost-saving moves across Gannett, and it follows a heads-up on Tuesday from Broadcasting President Dave Lougee. G3 came the same day USA Today consolidated regional financial work for its circulation department, reducing the number of well-paid controllers to six, from 17 positions. Overall, as many as 50 jobs were eliminated, my readers have told me.

The background graph
Gannett’s Wisconsin papers are establishing a regional copy and design desk. Earlier, GCI consolidated customer service, photo toning, and other services at regional locations, where fewer people presumably can do the same (or more!) work. In its most extreme economizing step, Gannett is now eliminating scores of ad-production jobs at its newspapers, shifting that work to India under a contract with offshorer 2AdPro of Los Angeles.

What’s next: Will the newspaper division open regional art departments to produce graphics for its papers? Don’t forget: clustering may lie ahead! Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Reports: KPNX, other stations ‘purging’ employees

May 15, 2008

Citing messages on its discussion board, TVSpy says Gannett is “purging” employees at some of its 23 TV stations — including at KPNX in Phoenix, and WTSP in St. Petersburg-Tampa, Fla. A Gannett Blog reader yesterday told me on the QT something would be coming down today, after that letter from Broadcasting President Dave Lougee.

Anyone from KUSA in Denver online? I hear you may have news for us. Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Or use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.