Sunday, July 23, 2006

As The 19/Browns Saga Turns

Today, it's Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19's turn in the ongoing saga over the Cleveland Browns' desire to dump the station as its local TV rightsholder. But instead of station general manager Bill Applegate making the case, it's lawyer Jack Kluznik...a member of the firm representing WOIO in its legal dispute with the local NFL team.

Kluznik tells Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown that the station and team have a "legal, binding contract"...saying the local Raycom Media outlet has held up its end of the legal bargain, and "expects the Browns to do the same".

Brown characterizes WOIO's legal team as being prepared for a "long legal battle", and that could be vital here.

The legal system rarely moves with swiftness. And the first pre-season game is less than a month away. Unless the team gets an immediate court injunction or something, it appears somewhat likely that at very least the first pre-season game or two, if not more, will actually air on Channel 19. And of course, when the regular season starts, the local CBS affiliate will already be airing the games via the network.

Browns owner Randy Lerner seems already resigned to that possibility, noting in yesterday's Plain Dealer article that the pre-season games will air on television - even if he basically has to hold his nose and accept WOIO continuing as the team partner in the short term.

But Lerner still appears to be miffed, if we're reading his public comments correctly. We're a bit biased here at OMW - particularly over WOIO/WUAB general manager Bill Applegate's reported effort to contact Lerner's mother, the widow of late owner Al Lerner and grandmother of the young victim here.

The saying could be "hell hath no fury like a grandmother wronged". We're guessing from our own family experience that if Norma Lerner is upset by what "19 Action News" did to her family, she'd go to the ends of the earth to sever ties with the station...so trying to go to her to beg to keep the Browns TV rights may not have been a good move for Applegate. He's better off keeping quiet, and hoping the legal system upholds his station's contract.

But OMW finds it hard to believe that Lerner would actually make this move without at least running it past the team's lawyers. And we find it hard to believe he'd waste Browns lawyers' time and the team's money to pursue this, if he wasn't informed he had a reasonable shot of escaping the contract...

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi OMW!

"But OMW finds it hard to believe that Lerner would actually make this move without at least running it past the team's lawyers. And we find it hard to believe he'd waste Browns lawyers' time and the team's money to pursue this, if he wasn't informed he had a reasonable shot of escaping the contract..."

Based on what Randy Lerner has done so far with the Browns, this seems _exactly_ like something he would do- act first, think about the consequences later (kind of like Channel 19 management!)...

Ohio Media Watch said...

Point well taken.

But we still find it hard to believe he didn't at least talk to the lawyers once. And as noted more than once, most contracts have escape clauses of some sort.

We'll have to see how this plays out. It could very well play out that WOIO runs all the pre-season games, and that the Browns are forced to buy them out after that.

-OMW

Anonymous said...

Either way, WOIO has severed a working relationship with the most important sports franchise in town. If they think they'd ever get a renewal at the end of the current contract (if it is somehow "legally binding"--hope not!), they can think again. 19/43 staff will be personna non-grata around BrownsTown.

Anonymous said...

With all of this ch 19 talk going on I do have a "retro WOIO" question. I had found on old WOIO nineteen kids club card minus the FOX logo dated 1990> I remeber signing up for it at the I-X center and Jeff from Jeff and Flash signed me up (I am almost 100% postive). The question was I do know that 'MMS and ch 19 was sister stations at that point but why would they have him signing up little kids to join the kids club? I bring this up because I found that and numerous tapes of FOX nineteen shows and noticed they never really showed the FOX logo. BTW why did they never really show the FOX logo with the nineteen? They only did a hand full of times and it was spotty at best. I remeber reading in out foxed the story of the Fox network that Art Modell did not want the NFL to go to fox in 87 because WOIO was really not that powerful and could not reach his house. I found this quite interresting because up until 1995 WOIO was the programming home of the browns which produced browns insider in addition to the games. If someone could shed just a little light on the past of ch 19 that would very nice. thank you.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, Jeff Kinzbach was the voice-over announcer in the "We're Fox Nineteen" commericals. Also, compared to other Fox affiliates of the time (late 80's/early 90's), I believe much fewer of them used the Fox logo, though I could be wrong. It was just a simpler time back then--how many affiliates of other networks used the branding back then? You'll notice WJW was never "CBS 8" back then (although obviously, ownership makes a world of difference, too).

Ohio Media Watch said...

Just some of our own random thoughts regarding the last comment:

1) Why was Jeff of Jeff and Flash handing out kids stuff for Malrite sister station WOIO/19? Good question. I'd guess it's because they were already in-house and worked for the company, and could be pressed into service. And maybe they were trying to recruit future WMMS listeners? :D (Did it work?)

This happens all the time at TV/radio combos. Disk jockeys on the FM do weather on TV (Tim Daugherty did it for years on WONE/Ch. 23), etc...though I can't remember if either Jeff or Flash had a regular role on-air at 19, even promotionally.

2) WOIO's signal strength. I don't know how it was out in Hunting Valley or whatever super rich far east side enclave where Art Modell lived at the time, but in Cuyahoga Falls, WOIO's signal came in fine even on rabbit ears on my bedroom TV set.

WOIO, as I recall, started up at the full 5 megawatt UHF power level. It was WBNX/55 that started out lower, until they moved to the Parma antenna farm.

3) WOIO did not use the FOX logo *at all* while an affiliate of that network. They ran the network promos with the logo, they ran whatever logos came down, but the station logo was always "WOIO nineteen"...the WOIO part in open block logo type, the "nineteen" in script.

-OMW

Ohio Media Watch said...

Other commenter - yes, I believe you're right about Jeff being the voiceover guy for "we're nineteen" (I'll do it in lower case for reverence to the station's past :)).

And you're also right about the lesser reliance on network branding in the mid 80's/early 90's.

But I don't even recall WOIO using the FOX logo in ANY local form. The "big three" network affiliates at the time would put the network logo in varying places next to the local logo, particularly when advertising network shows. WOIO - from my memory - clearly avoided doing this in its FOX days...

-OMW

Anonymous said...

They never used the FOX execpt in netwoek promos. In fact in do rember they showed there studio in a community bullton board where even at the station it showed WOIO nineteen with no FOX.They did show the fox logo from about 1993 when fox had a white logo and black trim. This was about the time Larry Elder(moral court, the Larry Elder show) worked at the station doing a public affairs program. If you watch ESPN classic in fact look at the old cavs games from the late 80's early 90's you will notice no fox logo when they did the cavs games inculding the famous shot heard around the world(1989 NBA playoffs with Micheal JOrdan I believe TT produced the game at the old richfied arena). As for recruiting for future listeners yes it did until they wrect the station. They hosted a few specials though the years but by 94 they were gone. They did use the fox nineteen logo for a early fox nineteen prmo video from 1990. The non localized version is on the tv ark page.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I never saw Fox logo in conjunction with WOIO, but Jeff Kinzbach definitely said "We're Fox Nineteen" in not only the legal IDs but also during some of the promos. I remember the awkward period from after WOIO became a CBS affiliate until several months later when they introduced the new logos and such with the rollout of WOIO 19 News (or whatever it was called back then) and the ID had been edited down to "We're Nineteen" and the edit wasn't done very well.

Living in the Canton area, and not having cable upstairs in the house I lived when I was in high school in the early-to-mid 90s, WOIO came in terrifc with a cheap telescopic antenna, but WBNX was weak. Obviously WAKC came in better than WEWS as well because of its closer proximity to our house, so I remember Tim Daugherty doing the weather there (first at 6 and 11, only to be displaced by then-morning meterologist Mark Johnson, who himself when he left for WEWS was replaced with Mark Nolan). Oddly enough WFMJ (featuring Chuck Galeti at the sports desk) regularly came in better than WKYC, but WJW came in better than WKBN . . .

Anonymous said...

Was WUAB a sister station to WMJI in the late 80s/early 90s? Dan Deely regularly filled in for Sally Bernier on the weather report (and might've done the weekend weather on a regular basis), and in addition to John Lanigan hosting the Prize Movie, I seem to recall him doing entertainment reports for their 10:00 News (much revered compared to what WUAB passes off as news at 10 PM now). Also, Jimmy Malone used to fill in as Prize Movie host when John was on vacation and Marty "SuperHost" Sullivan was unavailable. I also recall John Webster and Tony Rizzo occasionally popping up on-camera at WUAB as well . . .

Anonymous said...

To the last poster since sometime in the 80's it was owned by canell Cleveland(Stephan J Canell productions) and I do believe WMJI was owned by I think nationwise (its the old WKYC-FM) Speaking of which where is Marty "SuperHost" Sullivan at these days? I heard he was in Oregon or Washington state but that was a few years ago. I do remeber him riding his bike in costume out of the old ch 43 studios in Parma. I think the prize movie was good and I do rember that wheel they had with the pictures of all of the stations shows and stars.

Ohio Media Watch said...

We're pretty sure there was no ownership connection between WUAB/43 and WMJI/105.7.

A good guess would be that the connection was not through ownership, but through Lanigan...

-OMW

Johnny Morgan said...

Re: a bunch of stuff.

There was no ownership relation between WMJI and WUAB. But Lanigan had been associated with WUAB since his WGAR days, doing the Prize Movie way back in the early 70s (WUAB's then-GM was Lanigan's neighbor in Strongsville's Ledgewood community).

But John Webster also did voiceovers for WOIO while he was at WMJI. There's no doubt that Malrite was able to use Boom Goldberg, Jeff Kinzbach, Flash Ferenc, and Rocco the Rock Dog (who did B-movies) because of the cross-ownership, but Malrite viewed WOIO (and TV holdings) as separate from the radio division.

And, in the early 90s, Malrite (WMMS/WHK) and Legacy Broadcasting (WMJI) had a joint sales agreement (first in the market, if not in the nation).