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Station Break

Burns Exits Post-Newsweek

Jacksonville, Fla.—Sherry Burns, former GM of Post-Newsweek's WJXT(TV) Jacksonville, who just six weeks ago was named VP of Post-Newsweek Productions, is leaving to join Jacksonville's I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless as CEO.

She left the station in September to help oversee development of WJXT's Gimme the Mike!
local talent show, which it hopes to turn into a syndicated format.

Burns's extensive local-programming experience included producing Oprah Winfrey's first talker, People are Talking, for WJZ-TV Baltimore, according to her station bio. Post-Newsweek President Alan Frank says he has yet to decide whether to replace her or have Jim Dauphinee, the show's executive producer, assume her duties. NBC Enterprises is helping with the syndication sales.

Ivy League Goes Big League

Boston—Just think of it as the Supersmart Bowl. Tribune's WLVI-TV Boston is trying to put the Nov. 22 Harvard-Yale football game back on the national TV map. As part of a four-year deal, the station has created an ad hoc network and gotten national coverage on co-owned Superstation WGN, HDTV carriage via HDNet and even international carriage via North American Sports Network, which will feed it to Harvard and Yale Clubs in Europe. Not to mention cable and satellite coverage.

The potential audience will approach 70 million. The last time the game got national coverage was on ESPN2 in 1994.

Harvard and Yale were looking for wider play, says WLVI-TV VP/GM Vinnie Manzi, so he put together the package. The upscale audience "is an elusive group of people that you can't reach very easily because they are not watching a lot of television," he explains. "Plus, if you like football or college sports, it's a great game."

Durst Photo Dust-Up

Houston—The judge in a high profile Galveston, Texas, murder trial is investigating how KHOU-TV obtained crime-scene photos. The station bought a CD containing almost a thousand pictures, which it says it got from a source "not directly connected with the trial." Despite a gag order, the station chose to air some of the pictures. The defendant, millionaire Robert Durst, who had been accused of dismembering a neighbor and dumping his body in Galveston Bay, was acquitted last week.

According to General Manager Peter Diaz, the station did not air the grisly photos and, "for the most part," showed pictures that had already been seen by the jury. The station also posted the pictures on its Web site.

After it aired the photos, Diaz says, the district attorney asked KHOU-TV not to air them again. The station declined. "Our feeling was that the district attorney was trying to insinuate that that would impact the case. Our position is that the judge tells the jury not to watch stuff. If they are watching it they are violating their duty, but we're not violating our duty by showing them."

Reporter Helps Free Hostages

Columbia, S.C.—WIS(TV) reporter Craig Melvin helped secure the release of two prison guards, one of whom had been stabbed, when he agreed to talk with prisoners who had taken the men hostage. After the inmates, who claimed they were being mistreated, asked to speak with a member of the media, the prison director contacted Melvin, who was at the Lee Correctional Institution reporting on the story, and asked if he would agree to talk with them.

Melvin says he went in not as a news reporter but as "a concerned citizen. After the conflict had been resolved, I was allowed to ask questions, and I was a reporter again." He says it wasn't about getting an exclusive.

Melvin talked with the lead prisoner for about 15 minutes, and the guards were released. Melvin was not allowed to take a camera or crew to the actual interview, although police asked him to make an audiotape of the interview, which they took as evidence. The station did get exclusive access to footage of some of the aftermath of the standoff.

Just the Bare Facts

November sweeps and stories about strip clubs just seem to go together. In the case of KMGH-TV Denver, though, it was an investigative report about the misuse of tax dollars, and it prompted the ouster of the president of the convention bureau, Eugene Dilbeck. He was put on administrative leave and subsequently fired after a story by investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski about a bureau event at the Diamond Cabaret club. It's a violation of the bureau's rules to entertain at a strip club.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

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.