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WSFL to Launch News in 2020

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Scripps has enough infrastructure in place in Florida to put together a news operation in a fairly impressive time. In addition to West Palm, there are stations in Tampa and Tallahassee. Also, even though this has only just been announced, odds are this has been in progress since the deal was first discussed. 
 

Yes, one big challenge will be a facility that can be built out. But, with technology, that is not as difficult as it once was. A newsroom can be separate from the existing broadcast plant and linked by fiber. A stand-alone newsroom can go anywhere for now. I also wouldn’t bet money on WPTV producing a WSFL newscast for long (if ever). South Florida viewers are very parochial. They would have little interest in an imported newscast.

 

As far as WPLG and its operation goes:

 

Originally, Graham was only going to manage WPLG for BH for two years. That’s apparently expanded to an indefinite arrangement, which is obviously working. Added to that, the Graham family has had a long, personal friendship with Warren Buffett. That helped explain the original sale to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

If BH ever considered selling WPLG, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were offered back to Graham first. The list of other potential suitors is long. ABC would be at the top of that list. While Disney is not actively interested in more stations, there are a very few jewels they would love to acquire if they were individually available, and not part of a group.

( including WPLG, WCVB, WSB, WFTV, WJLA)

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2 hours ago, KentBrockman said:

 


Unfortunately, that won’t happen because Graham Media still utilizes WPLG as their graphics hub. BH is sort of an owner in-name only, Graham still pretty much handles day-to-day operations. It’s kind of like a Sinclair/Cunningham sort of arrangement. I don’t know if it was originally planned that way, but it looks like Graham has had a lot of trouble letting go and BH not used to running TV stations was like “F—- it.”

 

The other thought about this and most likely reason is Graham probably sold to BH initially with the understanding that they would still be the manager and operator of the station, probably to reduce some of their debt load.

That's very true. In fact when I interviewed at wkmg for their it engineer position the folks there mentioned that Graham still handles pretty much everything for wplg and it's not just graphics but literally everything minus who they hire

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Wasn't the sale of WPLG from Graham to BH pretty much a consolation prize for Buffet for selling the Post to Bezos over him? That seems to be the easiest way to justify the selling of a station in probably the biggest swing DMA in the nation.

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5 hours ago, KentBrockman said:

 


Unfortunately, that won’t happen because Graham Media still utilizes WPLG as their graphics hub. BH is sort of an owner in-name only, Graham still pretty much handles day-to-day operations. It’s kind of like a Sinclair/Cunningham sort of arrangement. I don’t know if it was originally planned that way, but it looks like Graham has had a lot of trouble letting go and BH not used to running TV stations was like “F—- it.”

 

The other thought about this and most likely reason is Graham probably sold to BH initially with the understanding that they would still be the manager and operator of the station, probably to reduce some of their debt load.

 

I think what happened is this: If you own shares in say,  Marathon Petroleum, you don't get much direct benefit except for what the share price does and a 3% dividend.

 

Uncle Warren owned a big chunk of Graham. He cashed out his shares in exchange for the TV station. It's tax-free that way and Berkshire Hathaway now gets all the cash flow from WPLG. It probably doesn't matter to him who runs the station, he just wanted it's cash flow and this was the only legal way to do it.

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18 hours ago, Weeters said:

 

Is this new? Last I heard, the WRTV Hub only controlled legacy stations pre-Journal merger, as it was built to operate only said stations with no room to expand.


WTKR was one of the Trib master control hubs. All of the former New York Times stations were hubbed there. Most still are, as part of a SSA with Nexstar and Tegna for the time being. TKR will remain a hub for a few of the (now) Scripps stations. And will be a backup master control hub for Newsy and potentially others. 

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1 minute ago, newsguy22 said:


WTKR was one of the Trib master control hubs. All of the former New York Times stations were hubbed there. Most still are, as part of a SSA with Nexstar and Tegna for the time being. TKR will remain a hub for a few of the (now) Scripps stations. And will be a backup master control hub for Newsy and potentially others. 

 

Who else was a hub station under Tribune?

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6 minutes ago, TheRyan said:

 

Who else was a hub station under Tribune?


Off the top of my head, we had/have: WTKR/WGNT, WNEP, WHNT, WREG. WHO, WQAD, KFOR, KFSM. Not sure who had the rest. 

Edited by newsguy22
Added a sentence.
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12 hours ago, MetroCity said:

Scripps has enough infrastructure in place in Florida to put together a news operation in a fairly impressive time. In addition to West Palm, there are stations in Tampa and Tallahassee. Also, even though this has only just been announced, odds are this has been in progress since the deal was first discussed. 
 

Yes, one big challenge will be a facility that can be built out. But, with technology, that is not as difficult as it once was. A newsroom can be separate from the existing broadcast plant and linked by fiber. A stand-alone newsroom can go anywhere for now. I also wouldn’t bet money on WPTV producing a WSFL newscast for long (if ever). South Florida viewers are very parochial. They would have little interest in an imported newscast.

 

As far as WPLG and its operation goes:

 

Originally, Graham was only going to manage WPLG for BH for two years. That’s apparently expanded to an indefinite arrangement, which is obviously working. Added to that, the Graham family has had a long, personal friendship with Warren Buffett. That helped explain the original sale to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

If BH ever considered selling WPLG, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were offered back to Graham first. The list of other potential suitors is long. ABC would be at the top of that list. While Disney is not actively interested in more stations, there are a very few jewels they would love to acquire if they were individually available, and not part of a group.

( including WPLG, WCVB, WSB, WFTV, WJLA)

To refer to the top of your post, don't forget about Scripps also having a station in Fort Myers.

 

To refer to the bottom, ABC would also love to have WFAA.

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14 hours ago, MetroCity said:

Originally, Graham was only going to manage WPLG for BH for two years. That’s apparently expanded to an indefinite arrangement, which is obviously working. Added to that, the Graham family has had a long, personal friendship with Warren Buffett. That helped explain the original sale to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

If BH ever considered selling WPLG, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were offered back to Graham first.

 

A quick check at the WPLG Wikipedia page just shows BH Media as the owner with no listed operator.   But it seems that you are right that Graham Media still has a hand in operating WPLG--given they still cooperate with the overall web and visual design.    One more thing, I checked a more recent closing to Local 10's newscasts, but unlike the Graham O&O stations, WPLG uses its call sign as copyright owner, not Graham.

 

But I would say the chances that Scripps gets WPLG is not likely at all.   If anything were to change, WPLG is more likely to go back to being a Graham O&O station, like you suggested.

Edited by TheRyan
edited last sentence

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2 hours ago, TheRyan said:

One more thing, I checked a more recent closing to Local 10's newscasts, but unlike the Graham O&O stations, WPLG uses its call sign as copyright owner, not Graham.

Was it listed as Graham before? Most stations are their own companies with different copyrights from the ownership.

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4 hours ago, Conrad said:

To refer to the bottom, ABC would also love to have WFAA.

 

Based on their purchase history over the past 20 years, I don't think ABC would "love" to buy anything.

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44 minutes ago, rkolsen said:

Was it listed as Graham before? Most stations are their own companies with different copyrights from the ownership.

 

Interestingly enough, I checked again on YouTube and it looks like they continued to use the Post-Newsweek Stations logo until around 2012...and then by 2013 they only ran the WPLG logo/callsign for copyright.   I also checked the closings for WDIV and WKMG and they both use the station logo/name for the copyright and then transitions into the Graham Media Group logo.   Graham's logo is completely absent on WPLG (as best as I can tell).

Edited by TheRyan
typo

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Before this becomes another "What does your stations copyright say?" thread:

 

What's on the copyright isn't always accurate and doesn't mean a whole lot of anything. Is it FOX Television Stations, LLC? Is it New World Communications of Tampa, Inc (which appears on the WTVT license)? Both are correct, because they're ultimately the same company.

 

NBC O&Os could theoretically use "Hilltop Hot Dogs, LLC" (it's a real NBCUniversal subsidiary, look it up) if they wanted to.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Weeters said:

"Hilltop Hot Dogs, LLC"

 

My favorite single-A minor league baseball team.

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Hilltop hot dogs LLC that's an awesome name. But just because Graham is managing WPLG does not mean that they are operating it. 

 

From what I recall Graham is managing all of the backend infrastructure (think it website engineering) for WPLG and also the graphics but outside of probably the gfx hub, everyone else is a buffet employee. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Conrad said:

To refer to the top of your post, don't forget about Scripps also having a station in Fort Myers.

 

To refer to the bottom, ABC would also love to have WFAA.

 

They would have to pry it from Tegna's cold, dead hands. No way are they giving up their largest station.

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I don't know how many workers WSFL has right now beyond the sales force, but it's no easy task to launch a bunch of newscasts. Scripps has to hire a staff. In many cases, the staff will have to relocate hundreds of miles. Newsroom systems need to be installed. Staff must be trained. This can take many months. WSFL doesn't even have a general manager right now, as far as I can tell. Are they still in downtown Fort Lauderdale?

Edited by TheRob
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2 hours ago, bhratbrat said:

TheRob they are probably still in the sun sentinel building in downtown ft Lauderdale. They still have Dave aizer on the payroll and these folks listed on the site 

https://sflcw.com/contact/people/

 

Not many on the payroll

I hope they keep Dave Aizer and the Inside South Florida program albeit with a better production budget. It's a great filler on the weekends.

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3 hours ago, bhratbrat said:

TheRob they are probably still in the sun sentinel building in downtown ft Lauderdale. 

 

I just mapped it out, 46 miles between the WPTV studios and the WSFL studios. That's not a huge distance and it's a CW station. I doubt it gets enough viewership to justify its own news department.

 

I don't see why they can't do a Broward-focused newscast relying heavily on WPTV. They don't really have to cover Miami-Dade, do they? Put another way, if Sinclair can do the Toledo nightly news cast from South Bend, why can't WSFL do it from West Palm Beach?

Edited by DirtyHarry
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I wouldn't be surprised if Scripps considers moving WSFL closer to Miami-Dade...or southern Broward like where WPLG and WTVJ are located.  They will want to be able to deploy news crews to breaking news events happening in Miami.  Being totally based in Ft. Lauderdale or even West Palm Beach might put them at an advantage for news in Broward, but at a big disadvantage for news in Miami-Dade or Monroe Counties.  But we should know soon what they do if they actually go ahead with a 2020 launch.

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22 minutes ago, TheRyan said:

I wouldn't be surprised if Scripps considers moving WSFL closer to Miami-Dade...or southern Broward like where WPLG and WTVJ are located.  They will want to be able to deploy news crews to breaking news events happening in Miami.  Being totally based in Ft. Lauderdale or even West Palm Beach might put them at an advantage for news in Broward, but at a big disadvantage for news in Miami-Dade or Monroe Counties.  But we should know soon what they do if they actually go ahead with a 2020 launch.

 

Does anybody in Broward really care about what's going on in Miami-Dade? Broward County alone has a population of almost 2 million people. Sounds to me like a Broward-focused news operation might be worth trying, like some stations in other large DMA's do.

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1 hour ago, DirtyHarry said:

 

Does anybody in Broward really care about what's going on in Miami-Dade? Broward County alone has a population of almost 2 million people. Sounds to me like a Broward-focused news operation might be worth trying, like some stations in other large DMA's do.

 

I certainly would be interested to see what that kind of newscast would look like.    But I speculate that Scripps would want a broader focus than that...so they are an equal competitor to the other stations.

Edited by TheRyan

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6 hours ago, bhratbrat said:

TheRob they are probably still in the sun sentinel building in downtown ft Lauderdale. They still have Dave aizer on the payroll and these folks listed on the site 

https://sflcw.com/contact/people/

 

Not many on the payroll

Dave Aizer left the station a few months back right before the sale of Trib/Nexstar, Scripps.

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