Saturday, June 24, 2006

The OMW Paid Programming Rant

It's not often you'll witness us rant this much, so you might want to pull up a seat.

The rant started, in part, because we stumbled upon an infomercial on Raycom Media's WUAB/43 tonight, Cleveland's UPN (to become My Network TV) affiliate. in 9:30 PM. Prime-time.

We're pretty sure UPN doesn't program Saturday nights nationwide, so the slot was likely open. But to get extra revenue, unlike competing NBC affiliate WKYC/3 - which preempted NBC's rerun of the "Treasure Hunters" premiere to run a locally-aired "Matlock" movie - WUAB decided to sell prime-time to the highest infomercial bidder.

And we mean prime-time. ALL OF IT, all two hours of the normal UPN prime-time slot, and for that matter, another two hours before that. For four hours in a prime viewing time slot, WUAB/43 was running infomercials. Take a look at the station's 8-11 PM schedule tonight:

Remember the old WUAB jingle? You know, the one that just about any Northeast Ohio adult could still sing today..."Channel 43...plays FAVORITES!" Not anymore, they don't!

We've been watching TV in this market for a long time, give or take time out of the area...but we haven't seen this before, ever. We have often heard complaints of Raycom blocking out a lot of infomercial time during Saturday afternoons on channel 43, but this is the first time we've encountered it in prime-time.

Why bother watching WUAB? When you air an infomercial, the TV station is basically off the air in the eyes of 95% of your viewers. Only the bored or curious stick around.

Why bother airing the stuff? As a former co-worker of ours - once the interim program director at a large market talk radio station - is fond of saying..."infomercials are the crack cocaine of radio". (Or TV, in this case.) WUAB may be driving away large numbers of people in prime time, but they're sure smiling cashing those Guthy-Renker checks.

It's no wonder that the CW Network went with WBNX/55 as the new network's Cleveland market affiliate...leaving WUAB to take up with the My Network TV folks.

The second target of our rant is a familiar one...he's WTAM/1100 afternoon drive host Mike Trivisonno.

For much of an hour during a recent show, Triv extolled the virtues of health-related products from someone identified only as "Dr. Lamar" (presumably this guy, pictured from his website). And we do mean much of the hour...Triv held him over during the bottom of the hour news. Something about oxygen getting into the colon and cleansing out undigested food or the like...we really can't remember.

Triv dutifully gave the guy's phone number and website - we won't bother linking it here, because "Dr. Lamar" hasn't paid US - and asked detailed questions about the latest version of snake oil to be sold on a 50,000 watt radio station.

We welcome clarification from anyone inside Oak Tree, but we'd nearly bet the still-not-yet-for-sale OMW World Headquarters that the "Dr. Lamar" appearance was a paid one. If the actual "interview" with Triv wasn't directly paid - and we're pretty sure they'd have to say so - then it's a part of a deal that will likely land "Dr. Lamar"'s full infomercial in WTAM's off hours.

We find it VERY hard to believe that this was considered a legitimate topic of interest for a lengthy interview in the middle of WTAM's afternoon drive, but we'll gladly change our minds if we get solid evidence that it was not an adjunct to a paid program.

Where are we media-wise, in 2006, if prime radio and TV time on high-profile stations is being sold to the highest bidder? We have long since become numb to the spectre of infomercials during off-hours, like late nights or on weekend afternoons. But in TV's most important, and radio's second most important, daypart?

No wonder we're ranting.


Anonymous said...

Why does WKYC show us Matlock instead of Treasure Hunters and why does WEWS show us Problem Child instead of A Bug's Life? An ad for A Bug's Life had been showing on WEWS (by the network, I presume) all week, yet it never showed. So much for my kid looking forward to it, eh?

Anonymous said...

I'm an avid Triv fan, but, I had to turn it off the other night. The colon-babble, and, I don't mean Bartolo, was just annoying and borderline disgusting.

Anonymous said...

commitments to the programs (matlock, problem child). WKYC I assume paid cash for Matlock movies and WEWS paid cash for Matlock the series as oposed tobartering for them. The Paramount syndication bible says that the movies are either two part 1 hour long or 1 2 hour movie. It is strange that they both have Matlock. In fact last nite at 12:05 am ch 5 had a 1 hour matlock on. I think they have to air these programs so many times during the contract sort of like ch 43 does with all in the family, the jeffersons etc. I know WMFZ in Philadelphia did that with Hawaii 5-O a few years back. BTW last weekend ch 43 did the same last weekend as this weekend all paid programs all weekend. BTW there are more prime time paid programs tonite according to titan tv. And over the next few weekend's it will be ch 19's turn at paid programming as most Saturday/Sunday's they will be airing paid commericals in addition to the all Friday/ Saturday nite paid programm they air.Maybe ch 43 lost the rights to their classic programs or have no movies to run. They have been dropping the old shows over the past few years so who knows. The past couple of weekends ch 19 has been running movies on the weekend afternoons so who knows.Is the banner on the 19 action news start page for real: Best newscast in Cleveland, this according to the ap ( . should be up real soon as they are hiring web sales,and web producers ( so could ne graphics be on the way too?

Anonymous said...

Not only did WUAB air infomericals most of the last two weekends, but according to our Dish Network programming guide,they are also airing an hour of them tomorrow night in place of That 70's Show. This only seems to be for one night, though. However, that hardly excuses it.

WUAB used to be a very classy operation. I can't believe how low they've gone in such a short time. It's bad enough that their own news programming now has to go under the WOIO banner, especially when WOIO wouldn't even have a news division if not for WUAB. If Raycom cares this little for WUAB or thinks this is a good programming model, I'd wish that they'd just cut it loose and let someone else take a crack at it.

Ohio Media Watch said...

Answering the "why" question on the alternate programming - Saturday night is the networks' least watched night of the week.

On Saturday night, the networks will often repeat earlier "event" shows or other shows they're trying to give more exposure. We recall that CBS used to air a second run of "The Amazing Race" on Saturday nights, for example.

When the networks do this, local stations often seize the opportunity to preempt that time slot with a locally-run movie or special. Why? They can make more money off it, since they can sell all the commercial breaks as local.

We don't know why both WEWS and WKYC have dibs on the "Matlock" franchise , or why it's a usual preempter in situations like this - WEWS has also done this. But it's probably cheap out of Paramount, and as the last comment said, they don't have to run spots from the syndicator.

It's one thing to run a moldy rerun of a mildly interesting old detective show, but it's another thing to blow open the schedule for pay-to-play in prime-time.


Anonymous said...

I can understand preempting a reality rerun or weak programming, but the Wonderful World of Disney? Saturday night or not, that's still first run TV.

Anonymous said...

It's sad to see what has become of WUAB...Channel 43 was once considered a regional "SuperStation," and one of the reasons people here in Northwestern PA wanted to get cable back in the day. The Star updates in prime time (was his name Linn Sheldon? Was there another guy with the last name "Short"?)...great reruns...Indians baseball...the 10 O'Clock News..."The gang's all here, be part of it! Channel 43 plays favorites!" I remember people pitching a fit here in NWPA when our cable system dropped the channel for a time. The came the SyndEx rules by the early 90's, deregulation, and infomercials. Yawn. A prime example of how recent telecom/ownership laws have hurt the broadcast industry. The station will never be like it was during the Gaylord Broadcasting years.

Anonymous said...

Folks, WUAB has been in this money-grubbing mode for quite some time now. They air more than TWO ENTIRE 24-HR. BROADCAST DAYS worth of paid-programming each and every week. Run, advertisers, run. The viewers certainly have.

Anonymous said...

According to Syndicated Network Television Association SNTA, Star Trek: The Original Series is coming to weekly syndication. It says it has 90%+ coverage. Maybe there is a slim chance that WUAB has the rights.

Anonymous said...

Here is where so of the new first run Syndicated and Syndicated repeats are going to air in Cleveland:

WKYC:Racheal Ray is going to be on at3pm,

WBNX:still standing,george lopaz,according to jim,
from various parts of
WJW: Dr.Keith Ablow

WOIO/WUAB: scrubs, Judge Maria Lopez

Anonymous said...

You will be happy to know that channel 43 will resume it's usual weekend programming this weekend.

That's right friends, "I Love Lucy", "Andy Griffith", and yes, even "Carson's Comedy Classics" reutrn this weekend!

And about the "Matlock" deal, WEWS has the rights to the weekly series, while WKYC bought the 2-part episodes as a movie package.

Anonymous said...

With WEWS & WKYC going crazy with Matlock re-re-reruns, I'm glad I can get some of the Youngstown stations OTA. As a matter of fact WKBN-DT just signed on with a coverage area that includes all of the City of Cleveland and the suburbs out as far as Strongsville and Medina! Here is an alternive to WOIO for CBS-HD programming ans as a bonus you get their SD FOX LP affilliate WYFX on subchannel 27-2. Just wait until football season! There are enough differences between WKBN/WYFX and WOIO/WJW to add up to a total of 5 NFL games on a Sunday afternoon!

If you have a digital OTA set-up aim an outdoor UHF antenna southeast and tune to rf 41. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe what has happened to WUAB. I'm not old enough to remember "Channel 43 plays favourites" but I'm old enough to remember a few years before UPN started. It was the only Cleveland station on cable here in London, and it was great - cartoons in the mornings, a respectable news operation, the Indians and Cavaliers, and more. I don't know why it is even still on Rogers basic cable here. It's not like it has a great OTA signal here. For all I care, they could drop 43 and add on WKBD/50 from Detroit.