Monday, April 20, 2009

Bye Bye Viewers

by Ed Dague
Albany Times Union
April 20, 2009

The first Nielsen rating report since WNYT’s firing of anchor Lydia Kulbida is a remarkable audience rejection of the station management’s move. (http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=791260&category=&BCCode=) The numbers represent a potential revenue loss that will more than erase any savings the bosses may have hoped to realize by cutting Kulbida’s salary. It should send a message to all area TV executives that talented people are actually valuable to a broadcast news operation.

That is the bright side of the ratings report. The dark side is that is comes too late to save the business. The viewers are leaving in droves because the business model that led to the replacement of bright, experienced and serious people with shallow sycophants wanting to be stars has made all the station’s newscasts irrelevant. In my experience, the sales people who came to dominate television management never cared about or understood serious news content.

Promotion managers have become news directors. News executives focus on graphic packages and sound effects. Items lifted from the NY Post’s gossip columns have become acceptable content. Who cares if a reporter understands history if they have good-looking hair?

The real news in the Nielsen ratings summary is not about one anchor but about all the viewers who disappeared. People didn’t change channels it seems. They turned their televisions off. Who can blame them?

Copyright 2009 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation

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