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Station Break

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Pappas Makes Change at Top

Visalia, Calif.—The musical chairs at top TV groups continues. Mitch Stern has moved to the DirecTV satellite post at Fox, and, last week, John Lansing was moving to the cable side at Scripps. Now Peter Chrisanthopoulos is apparently just moving out at Pappas Telecasting, which owns 23 stations and is about to add another two.

Chrisanthopoulos resigned abruptly as president and COO last week. He also stepped down from the board of directors. Calling it a "personnel matter," Pappas VP Mike Angelos would not comment beyond adding, "The business and broadcast world need to know that he is not in charge of our operations anymore."

The resignation was labeled "voluntary," but it was a short stint for the former Pappas sales executive. He assumed his post only last October, taking over some of the responsibilities of Chairman and CEO Harry Pappas, who said last week he was taking those responsibilities back, perhaps temporarily. Before being named president, Chrisanthopoulos had headed sales for the stations.

Tough Time in Youngstown

Youngstown, Ohio—It has been a tough few weeks for former WKBN-TV morning anchor Catherine Bosley and News Director Gary Coursen.

After 21 years as chief news photographer at the station, Coursen was named news director Dec. 15. A week later, Bosley came to his office and resigned saying that nude photos of her were circulating on the Web. Bosley had been in Key West, Fla., on her one-year wedding anniversary last year, she told various media outlets, when she entered a wet T-shirt contest on a whim. She said her decision to participate was a disappointment to herself "and God." At least one picture wound up on an industry Web site.

Coursen took a few days to think about the resignation, then accepted it. After the story got out, He was inundated with e-mail complaints. "I walked right into this thing," he told BROADCASTING & CABLE, "and I'm just getting pounded with negative e-mails." He drafted a response and spent much of last week personally sending it to the "hundreds and hundreds of complainers."

In the e-mail, Coursen said that credibility is "hard won but easily lost." As one of the "public faces" of the station, he said, "[Bosley] represented the integrity and credibility of the station and the news department. When you sign the contract, and accept the paycheck, you accept those responsibilities." He says he feels like a dinosaur in the face of the response to what he felt was a "traditional, ethical stand."

Simply Marsvelous

Stories of space triumphs, which dominated the news through much of the boomer generation's formative years, have made something of a local-news comeback in the past few weeks. The stunning success of the Spirit Mars probe, including TV-friendly high-res photos that look more like they could have been taken at Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas instead of the surface of a planet some 115 million miles away. Among those keeping tabs on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to cover the Mars landing and exploration were UPN affiliate KCOP(TV) weekend anchors Jennifer Gould and Michael Brownlee (above).

K.C. Engineer Headed to Slammer

Kansas City, Mo.—Jerry Lee Dixon, former KMBC-TV engineer who was arrested by the feds last September for alleged wire fraud (Station Break, 9/15) is going to prison. He has been sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay back the station (technically, its insurance company) for the $1.5 million in equipment he stole.

Dixon, who was fired from the station last year after staffers there became suspicious and began an investigation, pleaded guilty on Oct. 20 to two counts of wire fraud for buying equipment for his own company, Digital Sound Systems, and charging it to KMBC-TV parent Hearst-Argyle. According to the court, Dixon will have to pony up, to the penny, $1,584,546.34, although the interest has been waived (the theft occurred between January 2000 and December 2002). He will be on supervised release for three years after he gets out of prison.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.