Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Free Press Couldn't Help A Brother Out

The Broadcast Booth would love to be in the holiday spirit and have a very positive update for our last one in 2014, but this week's sports media related events are not making that possible.

First, mistakes happen. Sports media and otherwise. The Detroit Free Press made one on Monday, and as you might expect, competitors and much of the sports media well beyond Detroit had a field day with it. Its news of Coach Jim Harbaugh going from the San Francisco 49ers to the University of Michigan was huge, especially in the Free Press' home market, which includes Ann Arbor.

However, a careless photo editor ran a photo of Jim's brother John Harbaugh instead, meaning that the print edition went out with a wrong photo on its front page. Whereas those who publish a fact or photo incorrectly online (including social media) have the ability to change or delete something and make amends, there is nothing which can be done immediately when it is in print.

As much as I am against mentioning a competitor within a sportscast or report, in an instance such as this, I can't blame other media members for pointing out that a publication with one of the nation's best reputations has made a prominent goof. This is a way to indirectly make a competitor seem less trustworthy and point out that "we" had it right.

However, I see some long term effects which are not good for sports fans and some in sports media. This incident further discredits newspapers as being a valuable source of information. In the long run, that is not good.

The Free Press has always had a solid reputation for its reporting and coverage. After all, this was a photo and not a factual error. Because thousands of newspapers were printed and distributed with the wrong photo, the Free Press was not able to "delete" its error and update it like it was no big deal.

Yet, so many of the sources which jumped on touting the Free Press error have the ability to instantly "update" or delete an error they put out there.

In this era when far too many "reporters" do nothing but relay something someone else reported so that they can be "first" and "safe" with their information, most newspapers still go in-depth with their information, investigation, and actual reporting on stories of local importance. We should all hope this is never lost.

Next, more disturbing news for sports fans this week. Multichannel News says that Time Warner Cable is implementing a $2.75 per month "sports surcharge" in early 2015 for its customers not currently under a promotional rate. In addition, it says that Cablevision, DirecTV, and Mediacom Communications are also planning to implement or increase a "sports surcharge" as well.

This is the same TWC which continues to hold L.A. Dodgers fans hostage by now lowering its price for other carriers to distribute its Dodgers Network around Southern California. As recently as Monday (12/29), TWC again issued a statement saying they are willing to go to "binding arbitration" in the matter. As if our court system needs to take valuable time to decide how much fans should pay to watch Dodgers games on TV?

DirecTV has announced a price increase for its programming packages from 3.5% to 6% as of Feb. 5, 2015, along with an increase in its fees for each additional connected TV. This, of course, comes just after DirecTV bid hundreds of millions of dollars to retain its NFL Sunday Ticket package, which it claims is "part of" selected regular packages and is without an extra charge.

Something has to give before sports become games not only played by millionaires, but only watched by them as well.

Meanwhile, the recent tradition of Christmas and basketball is starting to take control. ABC's doubleheader on the afternoon of Dec. 25th was up about 14% over 2013, while the TNT night doubleheader finished as the highest rated Christmas prime-time doubleheader ever for TNT.

CHICAGO: Not the typical feud between broadcasters at WMVP ESPN 1000 when a current player is involved. Bears receiver Brandon Marshall (who also appears nationally on Inside The NFL each week) used his regular radio appearance to call station host Carmen DeFalco "a clown" who "shouldn't be on the radio". The reason? (Or so it appears) DeFalco has been critical of Marshall's play this season as the Bears finished at a disappointing 5-11. Wonder what Marshall would have said if DeFalco wasn't on the same station. It will be interesting to see whether or not Marshall is retained by WMVP (or another Chicago station) for next season (if still with the Bears). A professional broadcaster is not supposed to criticize a co-worker, especially without explaining his or her reason for doing so, without justification.

ALBANY: Not sure this was by popular demand, but the market is about to get its fourth sports radio station by mid-January. WZMR 104.9 is about to become WINU and be known as "Win 104.9", adding CBS Sports Radio. For those keeping score, WPTR 1240 will switch from CBS to NBC Sports Network, as both go against WTMM ESPN 104.5 The Team and WOFX Fox Sports 980. That seems like a lot of national coverage for a market which doesn't even have a pro sports team.

KNOXVILLE: WVLZ 1180 is dropping its oldies format next week (Jan. 5) to become a sports station, with the call letters to stand for "Vols" as in the Tennessee Volunteers. However, at least to start, the daytime only station will carry Yahoo Sports.

TALLAHASSEE: WNLS 1270 The Team has not survived into the new year, dropping its sports format, after more than 15 years, to simulcast a music format from a local FM station.

Happy New Year to you all! We'll be back next week and throughout the year ahead. As always, we appreciate your feedback and comments.

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