By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Death of a newscast

Timing is everything. Last September, I wrote twice about the sale of WLVI-TV (Channel 56) to Ed Ansin, the Miami-based owner of WHDH-TV (Channel 7), lamenting the loss of a quality newscast. But no one was paying attention at the time.

In the past few days I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails asking why I didn’t write about the death of Channel 56. So I’ll say it again — briefly. The FCC shouldn’t allow anyone to control more than one television station in a market. Because of the agency’s deregulatory zeal, good people have lost their jobs. More important, viewers have lost a newscast that many people trusted and liked.

Kudos to retired anchor Jack Hynes for speaking out (click here and here). And be sure to read today’s Inside Track account of the no-class manner by which the 56 folks were shoved out the door.

We also talked about the demise of Channel 56 on “Greater Boston” last Friday. You can watch it here.

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  1. Anonymous

    drgonzo here. If I were an executive planning a transition (say perhaps Patrick, or our friend in Miami) I would want to be on good terms with the outgoing team for one reason:If stuff’s facoct, they’re the only ones who will be able to help (from the “Big Dig Institutional Memory” dept.)and giving ’em the midnight boot is messed up.Kvitzin’ over here,Dr. Gonzo

  2. another face at zanzibar

    Dan, I was flipping around last night and stopped when I saw the “7” logo on channel 56 (actually channel 9 on my cable system). It suprised me that they didn’t even have enough imagination to use anything else but the same logo. But, then again, I should have expected this from them.

  3. Anonymous

    EB3 herethey also protected hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. That is what that was all about.

  4. Michael Ryle

    Dan,This is off-topic, but I’m not sure how else to do this. Watching you on GB has always been a pleasure, and now reading your blog is an even greater one, mainly because, unlike so many of the other blogs, the comments actually add value to the discussion instead of turning into mindless rants.Kudos. Keep up the good work.

  5. Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure WGBH operates more than one Television station in Massachusetts. It really doesn’t bother me if one company/person owns more than one station in the same state.

  6. Brighton Boris

    Dan,The powerful cartel you where work once a week has owned *two* TV stations and 1 radio station in the same market way before the Telecom Act was made into law. Hey, I don’t watch Ansin’s news product at 10(it’s tabloid trash for 15-22 demo), but at least he kept some form of local news on the station. Jack Hynes was off taregt on Monday night. I don’t blame him. He was emotional. And whne you’re emotional you’re likely to make an irrational statement like he did. But, there’s no guarantee that another buyer or even Tribune, if had kept the station, was going to retain 56’s news op in the longterm. On the contrary, another buyer or Tribune was probably going to shut it down because it was a loss leader. Believe it or not, the CW affiliation and rights to syndicated shows like Springer, Maury, I Love Raymond, My Wife and Kids, Sex in the City, Friends,Scrubs, etc are worth way more than 56’s news at 10 multiplied by 20.Something for you discuss when you visit the cartel offices to tape your show tomorrow.

  7. Anonymous

    dan, it’s clear you’re upset about the loss of 56’s news team, but why do you assume they were treated in a no-class manner and shoved out the door? isn’t it possible that bitter people portrayed themselves in that light ? didn’t they know this was the end coming? what was new management supposed to do? let them just hang there till dawn? these transitions are always awkward but you are a *journalist” no? did you make one call to find out for yourself what really went on? don’t you teach your students to check out stories?

  8. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    Unfortunately, in an asset sale such as this, the assets don’t include people who get sacked by the previous employer. The comparisons to GBH are not apt, the creation of the noncommercial GBX to carry runover and repeat programming was in the pre-cable, pre-vcr era when you watched it at a specific time or you never saw it This NONCOMMERCIAL additional station, far from a cartel, brought more programming to the air that wasn’t commercial viable — and in the beginning that meant the 21-inch classroom still had a spot on the air when GBH-TV went to Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. GBX was licensed in the days of “loop antennas” when other UHF channels were failing — and make no mistake about it, the Boston Bruins saved Storer’s WSBK, which was tottering on the edge when Orr-mania hit.Don’t ever confuse Ansin’s broadcasting interests with public service. The biggest accomplishment of his ch.56 newscasts will be to make Fox seem highbrow by comparison (has Maria Stephanos ever read a book??) News at 10 in Boston now means News by and for Morons, In Two Flavors.O Tempora! O Mores!

  9. o-fish-l

    Maybe Mr. Ansin was recalling this when he decided to secure his property and evicted the newly unemployed at 56.Excerpted from “Trashing the White House — the truth is in”UPI, June 18, 2002 by Peter Roff”Damage, theft, vandalism and pranks occurred in the White House complex during the 2001 presidential transition,” it says on page 19 of GAO’s June 2002 final report on the matter. “Incidents such as the removal of keys from computer keyboards; the theft of various items; the leaving of certain voice mail messages, signs and written messages; and the placing of glue on desk drawers clearly were intentional acts.” —-Bitter, newly unemployed folks will sometimes act maliciously and destructively. While I hate to compare the trailer-park Clinton crew with the fine folks of the late-56, if it can happen on Pennsylvania Avenue, it can surely happen on Morrissey Boulevard. Ansin was smart to do what he did.

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