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CW 23 owner looking to replace canceled "Arsenio Hall Show"

By Alan Pergament

There won't be a second season of "The Arsenio Hall Show," which is carried locally at 11 p.m. weeknights on WNLO-TV, the LIN Media station that also goes by CW 23.

The trade publication The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reported the end of Hall's syndicated show, a reversal of an announcement in February that it would get a second season.

THR blamed the cancellation on the decisions of station groups LIN Media, Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune to give Hall's show less desirable time slots on their stations in the fall.

LIN Media, which also owns Channel 4, had originally wanted to carry Hall's show here last fall at 10:30 p.m. after WNLO's popular 10 p.m. news. But that plan was rejected by the syndicator, CBS Television Distribution, which meant Hall's show got a weaker lead-in than it would have received from the news.

In January, WNLO expanded its 10 p.m. news to an hour, which also gave Hall a weaker lead-in for his 11 p.m. show than it would have had if it started at 10:30 p.m. because the second half-hour of news gets a much smaller audience than the first half hour.

At 11 p.m., Hall had to compete with local news on three network affiliates that collectively get higher viewership here than local news in many markets. It also competed at 11 p.m. with "Conan" on TBS and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central.

And then at 11:35 p.m., it competed with the network shows fronted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman, as well as "The Colbert Report" on cable's Comedy Central. With Stephen Colbert replacing Letterman some time in 2015, Comedy Central plans to replace his show in January with "The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore."

Needless to say, all the late-night competition would have been a tough challenge for anyone here and nationally.

The decision on what will replace Hall's show on CW 23 won't be made here. LIN Media will make the decision for all the stations in its group if it hasn't made it already.  



Snowden better prepared than Williams; Local TV "Giants" get small ratings

By Alan Pergament

Brian Williams "big get” interview with Edward Snowden Wednesday night suggests that not that many Western New Yorkers are interested in the privacy versus security debate driven by the NSA leaker.

The hour-long NBC interview had a 4.9 rating on Channel 2, which is decent by post-May sweeps standards. It means 4.9 percent of WNY television households were tuned in in an hour in which he competed with NHL and NBA playoff games.

The rating for the Snowden interview was just a fraction ahead of a 4.7 rating for a repeat episode of "CSI" on CBS affiliate Channel 4.  It didn't even win the time period locally. Channel 2's hour-long 10 p.m. news on WNLO-TV averaged a 5.4 rating.

According to an NBC poll on "Today" Thursday morning, the exiled Snowden helped his cause doing the interview from Moscow.

Though a majority of people felt he was a traitor before the interview ran, a bigger majority viewed him as a patriot for exposing NSA politices after it ran.

Continue reading "Snowden better prepared than Williams; Local TV "Giants" get small ratings" »

Ch.4 owner gives poor media lesson by denying Fairbanks interview

By Alan Pergament 

I had hoped to interview Channel 4 anchor Diana Fairbanks for my column this Sunday.

It was going to be a flattering goodbye piece about her work in more than two years at the CBS affiliate as she prepares to leave the area in a few weeks.

The interview isn't going to happen for a mind-blowing reason I'll explain a little later.

First, let's talk about her time here, where she has primarily anchored the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.  newscasts and had a brief stint as the co-anchor of "Wake Up!"

Since her arrival, Fairbanks has received flattering reviews from critics, including this one. 

When she anchored her first newscast early in 2012, I reviewed her performance for my former independent blog, StillTalkin' TV.

"Fairbanks is very professional, a solid anchor with a strong voice and no-nonsense manner that perfectly suits Channel 4's format," I wrote after her debut.

"She smiles often, but didn't initially seem to be the warmest TV personality," I added. "However, everything I've heard and read about her days as anchor in Traverse City, Mich. suggests that viewers will warm up to her as the days and weeks go by."

Continue reading "Ch.4 owner gives poor media lesson by denying Fairbanks interview" »

"Judge Judy" popularity needs more perspective

By Alan Pergament 

When reading a New York Times article about the national popularity of "Judge Judy" that ran on the front page of the Buffalo News on Saturday, I couldn't help but wonder how she is doing in Western New York.

She is doing well here, but some much-needed perspective is in order.

Judith Sheindlin’'s prime time program on May 20 had a 4.6 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. That placed it third in the time slot here opposite hour-long recaps of episodes of long-running musical reality series that originally aired on Monday.

In other words, "Judge Judy" finished third here to two reruns, which isn't  that impressive.

The recap of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" performance finale that originally aired a night earlier had an 8.1 rating on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. The recap performance finale of NBC's "The Voice" had a 6.2 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

"Judge Judy" defeated the actual live performance finale of "American Idol," which would have been very impressive in other years. It isn't so impressive now that "Idol" ratings have plummeted. "Idol" had a 3.7 rating Tuesday on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. The former No.1 show on television  finished fourth in its time slot, an indication of how far it has fallen.

Continue reading ""Judge Judy" popularity needs more perspective " »

Ch.7 has a beauty of a newscast

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking:

I didn't watch much television over the holiday weekend, but I did see Channel 7 cover the attempt of its morning traffic reporter Desiree Wiley to become Miss New York State and all I can say is "wow."

As in "wow" did the station really think it was a good idea to show off the Buffalo State College graduate in a bikini?

But perhaps I'm taking this a bit too seriously.

Wiley won the swimsuit competition so I guess it might have been must-see TV in some quarters. However, the idea that Miss New York State still has a swimsuit competition does seem pretty archaic.

That especially seems true at a time the issue of equal pay for equal work has been in the news lately after the firing of New York Times editor Jill Abramson.

Additionally, female TV reporters would be smart to play down their participation in beauty queen competitions. It could take a lifetime to overcome the idea they were hired on looks alone.

Continue reading "Ch.7 has a beauty of a newscast" »

Ch.2's Friona leaving station in three weeks

By Alan Pergament

Channel 2 anchor-reporter Mary Friona announced today that she is leaving the NBC affiliate after 16 years to focus on her family.

Friona made the announcement in a Facebook post.

"It has been a tough decision and I've gone back and forth for some time," she wrote. "I know that it is the right decision for me and my family. I am very happy and I hope you will be very happy for me! Thank you for all of your support, story ideas and encouragement over the years."

Friona, who is the anchor on the 11 a.m. newscast and also does the morning product test on "Daybreak," wrote that her last day will be June 13.

Channel 2 News Director Jeff Woodard wrote in an email sent this afternoon that the station is "working on both a short-term and long-term plan to replace" Friona.

In an email sent to the staff this morning, Woodard praised Friona "as an integral part of the success of 'Daybreak' for the past 16 years, as her 'As Seen on TV' product test has been one of the most popular franchises in the market.

"We will miss her engaging personality that came out in those tests, just as we will miss the fantastic storytelling. Mary has shared incredible stories of individuals and families with powerful messages of hope and survival... Mary, we wish you much happiness as you focus your attention and strength on raising your beautiful children and taking care of your entire family.

"For a fantastic 16-year run, we give you ‘2 Thumbs Up.'"

Ch.2's flood coverage astounds; More on Fairbanks leaving

By Alan Pergament

Leftovers before the Memorial Day holiday:

I don't know why Channel 2 lost the 6 p.m. news battle to Channel 4 during the May sweeps for the first time in six sweeps periods.

But I thought there was some visible evidence of poor news judgment at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the final day of the sweeps.

The NBC affiliate spent six minutes at the top of the newscast reporting on the floods in Falconer and Dewittville.

That's right, six minutes with reporters Pete Gallivan and Ron Plants telling us how bad things were a good distance from where most television news viewers in this market live.

Continue reading "Ch.2's flood coverage astounds; More on Fairbanks leaving " »

Fairbanks leaving Ch.4, returning to Michigan

By Alan Pergament

Channel 4 anchor Diana Fairbanks is leaving the station in about a month to return to Traverse City, Mich.

News Director Joe Schlaerth announced the move this morning in a memo to the staff.

"We're very sorry to see Diana leave," said General Manager Rene LaSpina. "I wish her much luck in the future."

Fairbanks isn't leaving for another broadcasting job.

"She's making the move because of her husband's job opportunity," said LaSpina.

Continue reading "Fairbanks leaving Ch.4, returning to Michigan" »

Scripps gets an eyeful from Ch.7's May results; Ch.4 gains

By Alan Pergament

The E.W. Scripps Company now is expected to take over ownership of Channel 7 in mid-June or a little later.

That gives it a few weeks to digest the results of the May sweeps to see what it is facing in trying to become more competitive with its rivals.

Channel 7 starts off the day with a 1.0 rating for the first hour of "Good Morning," which is about 30 percent of what Channel 4 and Channel 2 (3.6 each) get at that hour and about half of what it received a year ago. The 1 rating means 1 percent of Western New York households are tuned in at that early hour.

"Good Morning," which is co-anchored by Cole Heath and Tiffany Lundberg, doubles its rating to a 2.1 at 6 a.m., which is about 30 percent of what first place Channel 2 gets for "Daybreak" (6.5) and about 40 percent of what second place Channel 4 (5.2) receives for "Wake Up!"

Channel 7 is most competitive at noon, where it finished second with a 4.2 rating to a 7.0 for first place Channel 4 in the two-way competition.  That is about a 10 percent bump from a year ago. Of course, the ABC affiliate is helped at noon by the lead-in it gets from "The View." 

Channel 2 doesn't compete at noon. Channel 7’s noon newscast gets a higher rating than Channel 2’s 11 a.m. newscast, which had a 3.1 rating.

Channel 7 is a weak third in the 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. news block. The newscasts were flat with the ratings a year ago at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and up slightly at 5:30 p.m.

Channel 7 has a 2.5 rating at 5 p.m., which is 30 percent of the rating that first place Channel 2 (8.3) gets and about 40 percent of what second place Channel 4 (6.0) gets.

Channel 7's rating grows to a 3.4 at 5: 30 p.m., which is about 45 percent of what first place Channel 2 gets (7.7) and about 55 percent of what Channel 4 (6.5) gets.

At 6 p.m., Channel 7 gets a 4.7 rating, which is about half of what its rivals receive.

At 11 p.m., Channel 7 averages a 4.2, which is less than half of what first place Channel 4 (8.6)receives and about 65 percent of what second place Channel 2 (6.6) receives.

Clearly, all these figures show that Scripps has a big job ahead of it to become competitive. It plans to do a research survey to help decide what needs to be done to be more competitive.

You don’t need to spend a dime on research to know that the station needs to add some specialty reporters, especially an investigative reporter. It also needs to add news veterans behind the scenes and in front of the camera, and pump up its promotion.

That's my free advice.

It is official. As speculated Wednesday, Channel 4 finished in first place at 6 p.m. for the first time in six sweeps periods. Channel 4 averaged a 9.9 at 6 p.m., Channel 2 a 9.3. A year ago, Channel 2 won, 9.4-8.5. Channel 2 had won the previous five sweeps.

It was a very strong May sweeps for Channel 4, which tied for first at 5 a.m. with Channel 2 and won at noon, 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. It improved or tied its ratings in every news time period but at 11 p.m., where it dropped slightly but stayed a big No.1.

Channel 2 tied at 5 a.m. and won at 6 a.m., 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Its ratings were flat or lower everywhere but at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. from a year ago.

Of course, a bigger picture will emerge in a few weeks with the arrival of demographics that are so important to advertisers.

Ch.4 set to overtake Ch.2 at 6 p.m.; Walters' final "View" scores here

By Alan Pergament 

With the May sweeps ending tonight, it looks like there will be at least one upset in local news competition.

With only Tuesday and Wednesday's newscasts left, Channel 4 is ahead of Channel 2 at 6 p.m. by a small but significant margin that looks impossible to overcome.

Channel 2 has been No.1 overall in the 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. news block since the first sweeps after Channel 4 lost "Oprah" as the news lead-in in November of 2011.

The NBC affiliate has been No. 1 at 6 p.m. for the last five sweeps starting in February of 2013.

A year ago, the newscast led by Channel 2's co-anchor team of Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler won at 6 p.m., 9.4 to 8.5, over Channel 4's anchor team of Don Postles and Jacquie Walker.

But the tide has turned. Up until Tuesday during this May's sweeps, Channel 4 is ahead, 9.9 to 9.3. That's a swing of 1.5 ratings points in a year in the time period. 

Continue reading "Ch.4 set to overtake Ch.2 at 6 p.m.; Walters' final "View" scores here" »

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |