Stations have focused on their consumer advocacy units as a way of advancing the brand in the ultra-competitive Boston market. The departments are intent on winning back cash that viewers feel has been unfairly taken from them. On WCVB, Ben Simonneau, formerly of WNYW New York, fronts “Ben Has Your Back,” in addition to anchoring the new 4:30 p.m. news and other newscasts. GM Bill Fine said Simonneau’s segments focus on “bigger, broader-based consumer issues” — a number of viewers feeling aggrieved by a certain party, more so than an individual.
WBZ has its Call for Action unit, which won back $10,000 for a viewer who had an issue with their Bank of America debit card, and successfully pushed for another $10,000 from a contractor who botched a home improvement job. WHDH has its Solve It 7 unit, while NBC10 Responds represents WBTS, with Leslie Gaydos contributing reporting. GM Mike St. Peter said Responds has won back $270,000 for viewers. “Our team answers every email and every phone call,” said St. Peter. “We promise to get back to you.”
Telemundo station WNEU has returned $35,000 to viewers in just six months. “It’s starting to pick up on the Spanish side,” said St. Peter.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.