Station Break

KCOP Trims News

On June 3, Fox-owned UPN affiliate KCOP(TV) Los Angeles will change its hour newscast at 10 p.m. to a half-hour at 11 p.m. The Fox duopoly management will move Seinfeld
from its 11:30 spot on KTTV(TV) to 10 p.m. on KCOP, to be followed by Frasier.

The KCOP newscast had shown growth in recent sweeps but was down during the sweeps that ended last week, finishing last behind co-owned KTTV, KTLA(TV) and KCAL(TV) in the crowded news time slot.

John Frenzel, programming director for KTTV and KCOP, said: "We feel these comedies will give KCOP great counterprogramming to the other local stations and will give the station a solid lead-in for UPN 13 News at 11 p.m."

Fox execs said Larry Perrett will remain news director at KCOP and Jose Rios will remain at KTTV, with each station retaining its own news staff. Attempts to further merge the departments have been stymied by each station's having contracts with different unions.

Fort Myers Flier Mire

NBC affiliate WBBH-TV Fort Myers, Fla., says it only wanted to link the histories of local businesses to the current celebration of the network's 75th anniversary. But, in presenting $5,000 advertising "partnerships," in addition to commercials, promos and a share of the NBC anniversary branding, the station offered in a flier "a news story on you or your family and how they have impacted Southwest Florida, which will air in the M-F 5 p.m.-6 p.m. newscast."

Asked about the ethics of such a pitch, GM Steve Pontius said he regrets the flier and offer, adding that nothing like it will be done again. A few sold spots have already run, and, although Pontius says the station is embarrassed by the situation, the rest will run as well—but, he adds, with clear separation from the news portions of the newscast. "We should have done that from the first."

The offer clearly violates recent Radio-Television News Directors Association guidelines opposing favoritism toward advertisers or content generated by anything but "journalistic merits." "It should be clear to all advertisers," they say, "that they have no influence over news content." Local Naples Daily News
Editor Phil Lewis called the invitation "disturbing" and a "blurring of the line between advertising and content."

Arizona Bans Noncompetes

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull has signed a bill outlawing noncompete clauses in broadcast contracts. Such clauses generally ban an employee who leaves a job—sometimes even when fired—from working for a competitor for a period.

The right-to-work state seems an unlikely one for a law against noncompetes, but Republican State Senator Scott Bundgaard, its original sponsor, said his bill is entirely consistent with free enterprise. Opponents of the bill, including the Arizona Broadcasters Association, argued that the bill overrides parties' right to enter into contracts and would burden smaller stations.

Lobbying went on right into the final days. Hull met with broadcasters hoping for a veto on Monday and with on-air talent and other station employees on Tuesday. Bundgaard his side would have been close to having enough votes to override a veto.

Effron Joins MSNBC

Longtime Post-Newsweek news exec Mark Effron will leave P-N to become MSNBC's vice president for live news programming. In more than 25 years at P-N, Effron—a protégé of the late local-news legend Jim Snyder—was a producer, assistant news director, news director and station manager before overseeing its news department.

Had he stayed with Post-Newsweek, Effron would have had to relocate to Detroit, where company headquarters moved when Alan Frank replaced Bill Ryan as president. Instead, he'll relocate to New Jersey.

Miller to KTVT News

As expected, former WFAA-TV Dallas news exec John Miller will replace Linda Levy as news director at KTVT(TV) Fort Worth, Texas. Levy will move to KRLD(AM) as news director at the all-news station.