Ax Swings and Back9Network

About 40% of the staff at Hartford's Back9Network were told to pack up their stuff and get out.

The network is trying to raise a "significant" amount of capital to keep its doors open and if a deal is reached it could mean a change in the company's ownership.

It's not clear how much money the company needs, but Back9Network has already raised about $35 million to $37 million, which is a significant sum for a startup company. 

The money would help keep the operation running and try to get the network in front of more viewers, the source said.

In June, Back9Network signed its first TV deal with DirecTV and their programming has been on-air since September. But to reach a wider audience and attract more advertising revenue, Back9Network has been trying to strike deals with other TV providers, which has proved challenging.

On Monday, the golf lifestyle network's CEO Charles Cox said the layoffs and restructuring plans were part of "a thoughtful strategy that will allow the network to remain competitive and produce engaging content while growing the golf lifestyle.

Maybe they should have been more "thoughtful" before they hired all those people.

Just saying....

H/T Hartford Business Journal

First Loser

CNN took out a full page ad in the NY Times to crow about coming in second.

The ad which is aimed squarely at MSNBC's “Morning Joe” and its host Joe Scarborough, saying “Sorry, Joe, while you were leaning forward, we were moving ahead.”

CNN's morning show did beat MSNBC in both the demo and total viewers for January, but both are far behind Fox News.

Joe Scarborough fired back at CNN boss Jeff Zucker on Twitter:

So, CNN spent a ton of money on an ad for coming in second place.

As Tiger Woods used to say, second place is also first loser.

Just saying...

News Chopper Finds Missing Boy

A Florida kid that was sick of school and ran away was found in the woods by WKMG's (Orlando) news chopper.

The 10-year-old student, who attends Saturn Elementary School in Cocoa, disappeared around lunch time, Brevard school officials said. 

Several deputies and a sheriff's helicopter were canvassing nearby wooded areas when WKMG's Sky 6 photojournalist David Sprung located the boy from the air, reporting his location to authorities.

"Normally people don't like Mondays ... I now like Mondays," Sprung said. "This has been the absolute best day of my life since I've been doing news." 

The boy, who was spotted by Sprung by his orange sweater peeking through the brush, was rescued by deputies and carried on one of the deputy's backs just before 2 p.m. 

H/T WKMG

Anchor Shake Up in O-Town

WFTV (Orlando) is shaking up their anchor team.

After 17 years on the morning shift, Anchor Vanessa Echols finally gets to sleep in. Echols will co-anchor the noon and the 4 p.m. news.

Investigative Reporter/Anchor Nancy Alvarez will assume Echols’ place in the morning alongside Jamie Holmes.

News Director Matt Parcell said the change will allow both anchors to reach new viewers.

“Vanessa has been preparing Central Florida viewers for their days for nearly two decades. It’s time to share her wealth of experience and knowledge in another day part,” Parcell said. “Nancy is a very strong anchor who will continue to bring viewers the latest news and information as they wake up. Her new role will also allow her to continue providing viewers stories they can’t get anywhere but on Eyewitness News through her reporting.”

The changes happen right after the Feb book is over.

Expect more anchor changes at WFTV in August when former WESH Anchor Martha Sugalski joins the station after sitting out a verrrrrry long non-compete.

Atlanta Station Adding and Dropping Newscasts

WXIA in Atlanta is adding one newscast and taking away another.

The station announced that they are starting a 5 p.m. newscast on March 2 and are dropping their noon newscast. 

Brenda Wood will co-anchor the new 5 p.m. news with DeMarco Morgan. 

The station is also ending its noon news program and readjusting the schedule of its “pay for play” program “Atlanta and Company,” which currently runs an hour at 11 a.m. and then an additional 30 minutes at 12:30 p.m. Now, the show hosted by Christine Pullara will run continuously from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by a repeat of “Jeopardy.”

11 Alive’s general manager John Deushane said fewer people are watching local news in the middle of the day so they are transferring their efforts during that time frame online.

The Gannett station currently airs six hours of local news a day on weekdays including an hour of repeats at 3 a.m. The changes will keep the number of hours the same – just different times.

H/T Atlanta Journal Constitution 

Drunk News Anchors on the Next Dr. Phil

Drunk News Anchors on the Next Dr. Phil

The rating book is starting and Dr. Phil is turning to drunk TV Anchors to try and pull in viewers. 

Dr. Phil will look at Anchors that have battled the bottle and will focus on former Anchor Christi O'Connor, who went from winning three Emmys and living in a million-dollar home to becoming homeless after her drinking resulted in multiple arrests.

Entertainment Tonight has a preview at Dr. Phil's drunk TV Anchor show up after the jump.

Read More

Twin Cities Anchor to Return

Former KARE Anchor Amy Hockert is returning to the air, but she's doing it across the street.

 Hockert is joining Fox O&O KMSP on Feb. 9th.

Hockert says she will be a special projects Reporter and Anchor at KMSP.

Hockert was a news anchor at KARE for six years until she joined news aggregator BringMeTheNews in 2009, where she's now editor-in-chief.

She wrote a goodbye message to readers, telling them she is headed back to the boob tube. 

Talking about KMSP, Hockert says, "The producers, reporters and anchors are legacy players who understand, inherently, what's important to Minnesotans. At the same time, they're bobbing and weaving with the ever-changing way people consume news." 

H/T Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal 

No Comment

KOIN made the choice to turn off comments on the station's website and to be honest, we can't really blamed them.

KOIN's Digital Managing Editor Tim Steele says "it  wasn’t a decision KOIN.com made lightly or easily. But it’s time to be honest about what comment boards have morphed into over the years."

He writes, "For every great, insightful comment or news tip I’ve seen over the past decade posted to the bottom of a story, I’ve dealt with 50 times more comments that add no value. Pseudonymous commenters seemingly have limitless time to post inanities, vitriol, sexually explicit, mindless, vulgar and hurtful notes about people and things of which they have only cursory knowledge."

And taking a clue from the Las Vegas Review Journal, he quotes, “Nowhere does the First Amendment require the media to provide a platform for your speech.”

Comment sections on websites seem like so 10 years ago along with message boards. Anytime you let people hide behind a fake name or made up account, you are not going to get anything constructive.

We can't blame KOIN for turning off the comments and in fact, we think it was a good move.

Indiana Governor Backtracks on Taxpayer Funded News Service

Two days ago, FTVLive told you that Indiana Governor Mike Pence was looking to start a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that would help his office cutout the media.

But, after a large amount of backlash, Pence is back peddling from the plan. 

The Indy Star says that Pence told a conservative talk show host Wednesday that he would reject any version of his new "Just IN" website that looks like state-run media, continuing to distance himself from a written news service plan developed by his staff.

"As governor I can assure you that (the plan) did not meet my expectations and if this website doesn't meet my expectations of respecting the role of a free and independent press, I will reject i," Pence said Wednesday on WIBC-FM. 

Pence also repeated his earlier explanation that the new site was intended to be a resource, not a news source.

Garrison continued to question him: "How does an idea that's antithetical to what you were setting out to do go that far, when nobody caught it? Who wrote that thing?"

Pence replied: "I'm asking all those questions, Greg. I frankly learned about the memo from press reports late Monday. Using terms like news service, like news outlet, it's just not appropriate." 

Yeah right, the Governor didn't know.....sorry, don't believe that for a second. 

Comcast/Time Warner Deal May Not Happen

When cable giant and NBC owner Comcast announced that they were going to buy Time Warner Cable, Comcast figured they would have no problem greasing enough politicians to get the deal approved.

Many others figured the same thing, but now, it looks like what was once a done deal my no longer be the case.

Now, it is unclear whether the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission will give Comcast their blessing.

"They've had a lot of trouble, more than they thought they would — and rightly so," said Gene Kimmelman, a former top lawyer in the Justice Department's antitrust division who now leads advocacy group Public Knowledge, which opposes the Comcast-TWC merger.

The LA Times writes, here's the rub for Kimmelman and others: The new Comcast would be the nation's dominant supplier of high-speed Internet service. The company would boast 30 million customers in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas, San Francisco and Seattle.

Streaming service Netflix, satellite giant Dish Network, lawmakers and others have voiced concerns that Comcast could use this grip to stifle development of the Internet video business. In a sense, Comcast would have an incentive to beat back online challengers to its core business of bundling cable TV channels.

Meanwhile, a parade of major TV network executives have privately met with federal investigators, outlining their worries about a bulked-up Comcast, according to people involved in the meetings who were unauthorized to speak publicly. They fear Comcast would use its size and influence to undercut how much programmers such as CBS, Viacom and Discovery are paid for their channels.

Comcast, for its part, maintains the regulatory review of its acquisition is proceeding on schedule.

In other words, Comcast still has plenty of grease left and is willing to use it.