August 28, 2008

MEDIABIZ ; Not Quite Ready for Prime-Time TV


Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick may be one of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's top allies, but the major TV media snubbed him the other night when he took center stage at the Democratic National Convention.

Patrick began speaking shortly after 10 p.m. - a key hour when the three major networks went live with DNC coverage.

But those watching the big three and the national cable news channels were lucky if they caught a glimpse of Patrick in the background as the anchors and talking heads yapped away.

Locally, NECN, WFXT-TV (Ch. 25) and the Channel 7-owned WLVI-TV (Ch. 56) went live with Patrick's speech. C-SPAN did as well. Some PBS stations, including Channel 11 in New Hampshire, carried the speech later on tape delay.

Patrick was indifferent about the national TV snub. "I'm here for the Obama campaign, not for me," Patrick told the Herald in Denver yesterday.

MediaBiz asked the networks why they chose not to broadcast Patrick - who spoke shortly before the night's star, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

ABC spokeswoman Natalie Raabe said they carried Patrick's speech live on their 24-hour digital network, ABC News NOW, and on the Web. "On the broadcast network, ABC's hour of coverage featured the night's headliner, Senator Hillary Clinton," Raabe said.

CBS spokeswoman Sandra Genelius said their "prime-time broadcasts are generally built around the keynote speaker each night."

CNN spokeswoman Barbara Levin said all speeches are live on their Web site and the cable channel has been offering "a mix" of analysis, speeches and live guests.

"The decision to preview Senator Clinton's speech prior to her introduction was one of hundreds of programming decisons made every day," said a Fox News Channel spokesperson.

NBC and MSNBC didn't get back to MediaBiz.

Al Tompkins, who teaches broadcast and online journalism at the Poynter Institute, said people didn't tune in Tuesday night to see the Massachusetts governor.

"The pipefitter in St. Petersburg has no idea who (Patrick) is," Tompkins said. "He's not a national story, but then lots of good people don't get covered at the convention."

Patrick said his family in Chicago was able to see his talk, although he was unsure what network they watched him on. "They did watch. I don't know what they were watching on. . . . They all e- mailed me saying, `Good job,' " he said.

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Michelle Obama may be the next first lady, but it was Hillary Clinton who drew a bigger TV audience.

Nearly 26 million people watched Clinton speak at the DNC on eight networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, BET and TV One, according to Nielsen. That doesn't include PBS and C-Span.

Michelle Obama's speech drew around 22.3 million.

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Channel 7 is firing back in the age-discrimination lawsuit former reporter Mike Macklin slapped the station with in March.

The station and news director Linda Miele filed a response in Suffolk Superior Court last month denying that Macklin was discriminated against because of his age.

They say "all adverse actions" against Macklin were based on "legitimate, nondiscriminatory and non-retaliatory factors."

Macklin, 56, who worked as a freelancer at Channel 7 for over a decade, claims he was passed over for younger reporters.

Miele said in court papers that she "had issues" with Macklin's reporting style and attitude, telling him "that she found him to have a negative attitude toward some of the stories" he was assigned.

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Former WPRO-AM (630) host Dave Barber is offering to foot the bill for John DePetro to take a lie-detector test.

DePetro, a former Boston yakker, claims his wife was behind the ratings cheating scandal that benefited his Rhode Island radio show.

"Because of the sad state of the broadcast industry, I am offering to pay for a polygraph for Mr. DePetro," said Barber, who was canned from WPRO last year to make room for DePetro. "This will tell once and for all if he is telling the truth about his wife."

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MediaBiz has learned that Gareth Charter, the new publisher of Worcester Magazine, told the staff yesterday that the new owner plans to whack the entire editorial, publication and photography departments. Holden Landmark Corp. bought the magazine from Worcester Publishing Ltd.

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WBZ-TV (Ch. 4) has rebranded its 9 p.m. news on WSBK-TV (Ch. 38), calling it the "WBZ-TV News at 9 p.m. on TV 38."

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Not to be outdone by Comcast's "Wanna hook up" campaign, RCN is launching its own to attract the college crowd.

RCN plans to hold a contest next week for the best pickup line and will give out gift bags bearing the logo, "We'll help you bundle your package."

Dave Wedge contributed from Denver.

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Originally published by By JESSICA HESLAM.

(c) 2008 Boston Herald. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.