Thursday, August 16, 2007

We Know Who To Believe Now

In a June 29th item, we mulled over an article by the Youngstown Business Journal's Andrea Wood on the future of WYTV/33.

Back then, the company buying the Youngstown market ABC affiliate was being peppered with questions about its "Shared Services Agreement" uncovered in the FCC filing to buy WYTV - questions which led new owner Todd Parkin of Los Angeles to write a letter denying two things:

1) That Parkin Broadcasting would dismantle the existing "33 News" operation, giving control of the newsroom to the SSA partner, New Vision Television CBS/FOX combo WKBN/27-WYFX/17-62.

2) That employee seniority would be wiped out, much like it was at WKBN/WYFX as soon as NVT took over the stations.

The denials were brought after contentions from people like long-time WKBN-TV "27 First News" reporter Joe Bell, who in his role speaking for a union bargaining unit, said NVT's attorneys presented just such a scenario for the combined operations.

If you're scoring at, set and match to the veteran TV reporter.

Welcome to "D-Day" at Shady Run Road.

The Business Journal's Wood reports that with Parkin Broadcasting's official takeover of WYTV today, the union representing nearly all of the Channel 33 employees - NABET - has been notified that they'll lose their jobs when WYTV goes into the shared services agreement with WKBN/WYFX/New Vision Television.

Quoting a Parkin Broadcasting memo obtained by the Business Journal:

Within the next six months, we anticipate that NVT will be handling certain activities on behalf of the station, including news production, and they will offer employment to most of our employees. Most employees who are not hired by NVT will be offered a severance plan.

The company says that other non-news operations will continue to be handled in-house, though NABET also represents some back-office staff and technicians. We'll assume the building on Shady Run Road can hold even more sales people once the news studio is wiped out, no?

Quoting the Business Journal again, directly:

Since February, when Parkin’s $15.5 million deal to buy WYTV was announced and its intention to consolidate operations with New Vision revealed, senior management led Channel 33 employees to believe the news operation would remain separate from WKBN/WYFX.

Today Dave Trabert, general manager of WYTV, explained to employees that he did not expect the consolidation to take this form, according to multiple sources.

The business newspaper also notes that the memo wipes out WYTV employees' seniority, effective with today's takeover by Parkin.


In the previously linked item, note that we said Todd Parkin was moved enough to write a "calm down" letter to WYTV employees - denying everything that has since become, well, fact.

What does this serve?

And for those who are still around under Parkin's employ after the jettisoning of the news department, who would appear to be mostly salespeople at this point, how can you trust an owner that does this? How do you think Dave Trabert feels, assuming he's being truthful - as quoted above - about not expecting this end result?

Quoting our own earlier item:

Our guess, and this is only a guess: Mr. Parkin makes an effort on paper to carry on the WYTV newsroom and separate operations for a while. Maybe a few months to a year.

He then comes out and says, "look, we tried, but the numbers just aren't there"...and carries out the merger of the WYTV and WKBN/WYFX newsrooms and the end of WYTV's separate news operations.

As it turns out, it didn't even take Mr. Parkin ONE DAY after taking over the station (at one minute after midnight Thursday morning) to make this kind of statement:

The changes being made to the operations at WYTV are necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the station. Once these changes are made, we will have a stronger, more efficient station.

You know, when WYTV promotes whatever its newscasts will become after WKBN/WYFX takes them over, how will they promote them?

Will they proudly note that "33 News" is "a more efficient station", with less people replaced by people you already see on two other channels? We doubt it...

1 comment:

WERC alum said...

"The changes being made to the operations at WYTV are necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the station. Once these changes are made, we will have a stronger, more efficient station."

Who is "we"? Is he speaking to employees? They're being laid off, so they're not going to be part of a stronger, more efficient station.

Having been laid off by Raycom, this all rings too familiar.

It's almost amazing that these station "owners" don't seem to care at all about what they say.

No, there isn't any way to trust any of these owners, and therefore, there isn't any way to work for them.

And I am well sick-and-tired of being told that this is just the way business is done. NO, this is NOT the way that good, profitable business is done. This is insulting and digusting.

I got out for that very reason. As much as I loved my career in broadcasting, there is no offer that I would accept to return.

I simply can't trust these people enough to take a chance on them.

And take my word for it, the rest of the world does NOT operate the way these people do. They tell you that so that you won't consider a different career.

As for the American public, well, newspapers are being run down into mere shells of what they used to be and broadcast owners are making a shambles of electronic news operations. I guess we'll just have to believe everything the government tells us at face value, since we're not going to be privileged with any journalism.