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Oct 8, 2001  •  Post A Comment

UPN hangs onto defector station
UPN seems to have staved off an attempted affiliate defection to Fox in Bangor, Maine. WCKD-TV, which is less than a year into a five-year contract as a UPN affiliate, has been carrying Fox programming under a secondary-affiliate arrangement. The low-power station-which is owned by James McLeod’s Maine Family Broadcasting and managed by Rockfleet Broadcasting, the owner of Bangor ABC affiliate WVII-TV-had been notified three times since last winter that it was making unauthorized pre-emptions of UPN programming for Fox Sports programming and was in breach of its contract with UPN and ran the risk of being disaffiliated.
The station apparently approached Fox about becoming a primary affiliate. After local announcement of the switch, which had been set to take effect Monday, Steve Carlston, the executive in charge of UPN’s network distribution, swung into action, notifying WCKD and Fox that the station was in no position to make an affiliate switch. “It’s unfortunate that [WCKD] Channel 30 has put themselves in this position,” Mr. Carlston said last week. “We fully anticipate they will live up to the letter of the agreement, as we have from our end from the very beginning, supplying them with quality growing programming.”
Mr. McLeod said he is not involved in day-to-day management of WCKD and, “From our perspective it really is an issue between Rockfleet and UPN and Fox.” The general manager of WVII-TV and WCKD-TV was unavailable for comment. And a Fox spokesman said, “We’re not going to comment on issues at other networks.”
St. Louis station eliminating local news
KDNL-TV, Sinclair Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate in St. Louis, is eliminating its local newscasts effective Oct. 12. The decision, which General Manager Tom Tipton said came “after months of debate,” means the layoffs of nearly 50 people. “Current market conditions have made it very difficult,” Mr. Tipton said. The alternative, he said, would have been to make cuts that would have weakened the station’s news in a very competitive market. “We’re offering severance packages where they’re applicable.” He said the station also is offering outplacement services to employees. Sinclair, which owns or programs 62 TV stations in 40 markets, recently lowered its third-quarter projections, saying that broadcast revenue is likely to be down 12 percent to 14 percent from third quarter 2000. Earlier projections had been for broadcast revenue declines of 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent.
Fox moves Rueppel to Minneapolis
Carol Rueppel has been named vice president and general manager of Fox’s owned-and-operated stations in Minneapolis-UPN-affiliated KMSP-TV and Fox outlet WFTC-TV-and the company’s regional Fox Sports Net. The announcement was made last Thursday by Mitchell Stern, chairman and CEO, Fox Television Stations. In her new duties, Ms. Rueppel will be responsible for overseeing all business and administrative activities at both television stations. She will also oversee the local advertising sales and marketing efforts for the regional Fox Sports Net. Ms. Rueppel joins KMSP and WFTC from Fox O&O WITI-TV, Milwaukee, where she has been vice president and general manager since April 1997.
Godwin named KNBC news director
Kimberly Godwin was named vice president and news director for KNBC-TV, Los Angeles, effective Oct. 1. In her new role, Ms. Godwin will oversee the station’s news operation, which includes six daily and three weekend newscasts. She will also oversee strategic planning for the division. Ms. Godwin joins KNBC from the NBC Television Stations Division, where she was vice president of news operations.
Short takes
Joe Cook has rejoined Emmis Communications as vice president and general manager of WVUE-TV, the group’s Fox affiliate in New Orleans. Mr. Cook had been an executive at Emmis-owned WALA-TV in Mobile, Ala., for some 15 years before taking early retirement last year. … Granite Broadcasting has announced it is looking for a buyer for WDWB-TV, the WB affiliate in Detroit. The group owns nine stations.#