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Too Early for Ch.4 to Bank on New Set, Anchor

Weeknight news open.

Strong Sweeps Start

Channel 4’s new anchor Diana Fairbanks sent out a panoramic view of the station’s new high definition set this week to her social media followers.

The view apparently hasn’t impressed Channel 4’s viewers so much during the first two weeks of the February sweeps.

The new set (which got big play in a promotional Buffalo News story) and the new anchor getting high grades haven’t helped Channel 4 News in its battle with Channel 2 for local news supremacy in the early evening hours.

And the Amelia Segal for Mike Cejka weather trade  in the morning isn’t helping Channel 4’s “Wake Up,” either.

Channel 2 News has much more to celebrate in the first two weeks than its rival, which was expected to gain some viewers in February now that it entered the 21st Century with a new set and added an impressive anchor in Fairbanks.

With two weeks left in the sweeps, Channel 2 ‘s “Daybreak” leads by a wider margin from a year ago over Channel 4’s “Wake Up” ago at 6 a.m.  Channel 2 also now owns a solid lead from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. over Channel 4, which was No.1 there last February when programs in Oprah Winfrey’s final season provided the lead-in.

At 5 p.m, Channel 2’s lead is 9.3-7.8. At 5:30 p.m., Channel 2’s lead over the first newscast anchored by Fairbanks is 10.0-7.6. At 6 p.m., Channel 2 leads 9.7-8.5. A year ago, Channel 4 won all three newscasts. (For those who wonder, Channel 7 is a poor third in all time slots).

The race at 10 p.m. between Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO-TV and Channel 2’s “10 at 10” on WNYO is even much tighter than it was a year ago. That’s where Fairbanks competes with former Channel 4 anchor Melissa Holmes, who now is at Channel 2. The race has tightened because of WNLO declines from a year ago, not because of audience gains at WNYO.

A year ago, Channel 4 on WNLO won by a 6.1-1.9 margin over Channel 2 on WNYO for the entire sweeps period. In the first two weeks of this sweeps period Channel 4 has lost more than a point of its lead and wins 4.7-1.7.

Of course, Buffalo is a news market that is notorious for being slow to accept any changes so it isn’t that surprising that Fairbanks hasn’t become as instantly popular with viewers as she has become with critics.

This February also has been unusually calm weather-wise, which may have something to do with the diminished news audiences compared to a year ago.

Channel 4 is trying to promote Fairbanks, using her in promos with main anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker and even having her read promos for the morning “Wake Up” show that she doesn’t appear on.

“Wake Up” needs the promotional help. After closing to win two-tenths of a point last February, it is behind by almost a full point this February.

The only newscast besides 10 p.m. where Channel 4 still dominates is at 11 p.m., where it holds a commanding lead over Channel 2. Of course, Channel 4 has a big lead-in advantage because of the popularity of CBS’ 10 p.m. shows. NBC’s 10 p.m. shows don’t help Channel 2 much at all.


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Houston Gossip, Higgins’ Haircut and Linmania


Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins: Promoted


I’m sure that many people watching the plea of essayist Bill Flanagan on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” for the media to leave Whitney Houston alone after the eulogies stopped Sunday were moved by the idea.

Flanagan probably would have received a standing ovation in many homes after he told viewers “let’s ignore the gossip press and scandal media that will try to exploit her memory now that she can’t defend herself.”

After it was over, my immediate thoughts were “well done” and “fat chance.”

There is money to be made from the exploitation of Houston and the gossip press and scandal media aren’t the only ones that realize that. The network morning shows and prime time shows realize it as well. So stay tuned for nightly specials in time slots where the networks have trouble getting viewers.

One of my South Buffalo spies alerted me to the unscheduled appearance of Congressman Brian Higgins on Tuesday’s edition of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” During his monologue, Leno noted that taxpayers pay for Senate haircuts and then aired footage of a series of politicians with bad haircuts. The first politician with a bad hair day was – you guessed it – Higgins, whose uncontrollable locks were on display. Oh, well, at Leno gave Higgins a promotion. The bit suggested he was a senator instead of a congressman. The footage of Higgins, Barney Frank and others is available on the internet. 

I’ll give fans of this season’s favorite guilty pleasure, ABC’s “Revenge” time to catch up with Wednesday’s episode. Let’s just say it ended with a terrific twist that I should have seen coming well before I did in the final 15-20 minutes. More on it in a future blog – perhaps even Friday – after I give readers a day to see it.

You had to love the way ESPN tried to spin removing Lackawanna native Ron Jaworski from the Monday Night Football booth. It sent out a release announcing he signed a five-year deal that downplayed that he was leaving MNF. Of course, his departure from the three-man booth was the bigger story. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden now will go it alone. As I said Wednesday, Gruden and Jaws both are quarterback experts so it was understandable that one of them would leave the booth. However, you might have expected a defensive-minded analyst to join Gruden. Since Gruden’s name comes up every time there is a NFL coaching opening, one would assume ESPN has some kind of assurance that he isn’t going back to coaching anytime soon.

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley committed an unforced turnover when he confused baseball and basketball after Wednesday’s newscast ran a piece on New York Knicks sensation and Harvard grad Jeremy Lin. Pelley said only four Harvard grads have played pro baseball (he meant basketball), with twice as many Harvard grads making it to the  presidency than the NBA.

Speaking of Linmania, the Knicks game with the Dallas Mavericks at 1 p.m. Sunday is on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. It goes one-on-one with a 12:30 p.m. Buffalo Sabres game with Pittsburgh Sunday on Channel 2, the NBC affiliate. I imagine a lot of dial switching will be going on locally. Of course, the Knicks and Sabres are both off of local cable because of the TWC-MSG dispute. It is just our luck that their network telecasts are on at the same time.  

pergament@msn. com 

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“Smash” Is Local Hit; Jaworski Off of MNF in New Deal

This is what I’m thinking:

Ron Jaworski

Ron Jaworski: Off of MNF

The NBC musical drama “Smash” took a much bigger hit nationally than locally Monday when its second episode ran.

“Smash” had an 8.1 rating on Channel 2 Monday, down only slightly from the 8.4 the premiere had locally on the Monday after the Super Bowl.

Nationally, “Smash” lost a quarter of its audience Monday from the premiere. But that’s a bit deceptive because the premiere audience was inflated by the viewership it had in the first 15 minutes. The decline wasn’t that much compared to the final 15 minutes of the premiere. “Smash” still won its time slot nationally. That’s a good sign for NBC. Channel 2 rarely gets anything in prime time in the range of an 8 rating.

Talk about timing. Monday’s episode of “Glee” featured Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, singing the song that Whitney Houston made famous, “I Will Always Love You.”

Sorry to see that Lackawanna’s Ron Jaworski will be off Monday Night Football next season now that ESPN has decided to go with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden on a two-man team. Jaws and Gruden are both quarterback experts so there was duplication. However, you might have thought that ESPN could have found a defensive-minded analyst to pair with Gruden, who delivers far too many superlatives every game. Jaworski will be busy anyway next season after signing a five-year extension to appear on several football related ESPN program.


Buffalo native David Milch, the creator of the HBO horse racing series, “Luck,” had to be pleased by the endorsement by Tony Kornheiser Tuesday on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption. “At the risk of sounding stupid,” Kornheiser said in between a commercial break, “‘Luck’ may be the greatest show ever made. It is great. It is great.”

I loved the Buffalo News column Bruce Andriatch wrote Monday about listening to radio broadcasts of Buffalo Sabres games during the Time Warner-MSG dispute that is keeping the games off of TV. Andriatch is one of my favorite columnists at the paper.

Rating update: The preliminary 11.4 rating for the Sabres game with Tampa Saturday on Channel 2 rose to a 12.6 rating after the final numbers came in. The rating in Rochester won’t arrive for a while since Rochester isn’t a metered market.


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Cost of Cable Channels Should Be Known

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Stephen Colbert

This is what I’m thinking:

If you ask me, the Public Service Commission should forget about trying to pass a rule or a law to solve future cable TV stalemates like the current one between Time Warner Cable and the owner of the Madison Square Garden Network and do something easier to solve that is more important to consumers.

I’m talking about the cable secrecy that allows systems to avoid telling consumers how much they pay to get channels like MSG, ESPN, CNN, Fox News and hundreds more.

After the battle between TWC and MSG has gone on for several weeks, we still don’t know which company is telling the truth about what TWC had been charged for the channel that carries the New York Knicks and Buffalo Sabres and what is being asked for now. Of course, cable systems pass on whatever they are being charged to the consumer or subscriber.

Consumers get to know what they pay for practically everything else these days. So why not be told what they pay for cable channels? If it isn’t the role of the PSC to propose that law, surely some other state or national body could be responsible. There ought to be a law. I’m just sayin’.

WGR radio host Mike Schopp’s distaste for the National Basketball Association is well-known, but I almost drove off the road Monday afternoon when he said he didn’t want to listen to national host Colin Cowherd talk about New York Knick star Jeremy Lin because he has no interest in the NBA or talking about it. Shortly after that, Schopp said he did want to talk about the Grammys and the death of Whitney Houston. Sure, that’s just what we want from a sports talk host.

I didn’t stay around for Schopp’s assessment of the Grammys. Lin’s story transcends sports and gives hope to every player who never made it off the bench or was told he wasn’t good enough. On Monday night, Stephen Colbert’s addressed Linsanity on his cable comedy show. He said the media is saying Lin came out of nowhere, adding “which is my name for Harvard.” (Lin is a Harvard grad.) David Letterman talked about Lin in his Monday monologue.

The point is that any sports talk host who is proud that he isn’t interested in the Lin story or in the NBA ought to be ashamed of cashing a paycheck. I hope Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan – who wrote a wonderful column about Lin on Monday — straightened Schopp out when he appeared on WGR later in the afternoon. I just couldn’t stick around.

The Buffalo Sabres loss to Tampa Bay Saturday had an 11.4 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate that carried MSG’s coverage. The only February prime programs that will get a higher rating on Channel 2 were the Super Bowl and premiere of “The Voice,” which followed it.

The death of Whitney Houston and the tribute for her Sunday led to a big rating for CBS’ coverage of the Grammy Awards locally as well as nationally. The Grammys had a 23.6 rating on Channel 4. Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate, would be happy to get something in that range for the Oscars on Feb. 26. The fact that the two favorites for best film – “The Artist” and “The Descendants” — are smaller films that appeal to older viewers won’t help ratings. I liked them both very much but I would vote for “Hugo” as best picture.


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Be Careful What You Root for on Blackouts

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeremy Lin #17 o...

Jeremy Lin: Can He Solve TWC-MSG Dispute

Heaven help those who get what they want.

That phrase comes to mind when thinking about the Western New Yorkers  who want the FCC to end the policy that leads to blackouts of Bills games that aren’t sold out 72 hours in advance.

I sympathize with the handicapped and the elderly with health problems that can’t get to the Ralph to see the games. I also understand why fans believe all games should be televised because taxpayer money pays for stadium upgrades.

I just don’t know what to root for.

My heart says root for the blackouts to end. I could be dead wrong, but my head says not so fast.

Naturally, it is easy for politicians to climb aboard the anti-blackout movement led by the Buffalo Chapter of the Sports Fans Coalition. But sometimes quick rule changes can have long-term unintended consequences.

The NFL has said that only 16 games in the 2011 season were blacked out, with the small-market teams in Buffalo, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay having most of the blackouts.

It hasn’t been a problem in big markets, which have many more potential fans to fill the stadiums at much higher ticket prices. So a change in the rule probably wouldn’t hurt them. I fear it could hurt small market teams.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the FCC is moved by the stories of the handicapped and the infirm and changes the rules that prohibit cable and satellite systems from carrying games not on local TV affiliates, and the games land on TV regardless of whether they are sold out.

And let’s say the NFL is right that the blackout rule helps it fill stadiums and a change in the rule results in more empty seats in Buffalo, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. After all, some former Bills ticket buyers might prefer waiting until late November and December to see what the weather is like before buying tickets to games then. And some season ticketholders might just decide to buy tickets for the games in early fall, when the weather is better.

If that would happen and ticket sales drop significantly in Buffalo and in other small markets, what do you think the owners of those teams might consider doing then?

Do I hear the words “move their teams?”

Any reduced attendance could cause team owners to say “I told you so,” blame the communities for lack of support and feel more entitled to put attendance clauses in their leases so they could eventually move somewhere where the games would be sold-out.

It certainly is a scenario that Bills fans should fear since they already have enough reasons to worry about losing a team owned by a man in his 90s who wants stadium improvements and who recently learned again that the money he gets for radio rights to Bills games probably can’t pay for one decent player.

The taxpayers who feel they are entitled to see the games on TV because of the public money that subsidizes stadium improvements should understand that taxpayer money goes to plenty of private businesses without the government telling them how to change the way they conduct their businesses.

The Bills do provide the area with entertainment, pay taxes, support other businesses and have highly-paid employees who add to the tax base.

This isn’t to say that I don’t understand why people want the blackouts to end. I just think small markets like Buffalo could eventually have more to lose than win if the rule changes.

It would be better if the league addresses this issue itself. After all, the NFL wants all the games to sell out and be televised because more viewers and higher ratings can lead to more TV money. It also realizes that the blacked-out games are carried by illegal websites so it has reason to solve this problem by itself rather than be forced to do it by the government.

While we’re on a sports blackout issue, one wonders if the Jeremy Linsanity going on with the New York Knicks will mean MSG and Time Warner Cable have a new reason to get together and end the dispute that also has kept Buffalo Sabres games off of local cable.

After all, as I’ve said several times this is a dispute that is more about NYC – where TWC has many more subscribers — than it is about Buffalo. The Sabres’ recent play has been nice for fans but it won’t make TWC officials in NYC budge from their negotiation stance.

However, Lin’s play in New York City has the Big Apple and the world abuzz and certainly should encourage the two sides to try and solve this mess and get the Knicks games in more NYC and WNY homes.

If Linsanity gets MSG and TWC to end their own insanity, then the Harvard grad will truly be a miracle worker.

And while we’re on the subject of TWC and sports, the announcement by the NFL Network that it is expanding its Thursday Night schedule to 13 games and that every team next year will have a prime time game won’t help most cable fans here see more football unless TWC makes a deal to carry the network.  The question is whether the extra games will put more pressure on TWC nationally to make a deal to carry The NFL Network.

If the Bills make the NFL Network schedule next season, at least the game will be televised here on one of the local network affiliates. Of course, right now that’s if it is sold out 72 hours in advance.



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Hollywood Shows Not Big Boost for “Idol” Here

This is what I’m thinking:

English: Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto In...

Clint Eastwood

With a post-Super Bowl  boost, NBC’sThe Voice” overtook Fox’s “American Idol” this week as Western New York’s favorite karaoke singing competition. “The Voice” averaged a 10.0 on Channel 2 on Monday after premiering with a 17.4 after the Super Bowl.

The first Hollywood installment of Fox’s “American Idol” had a 9.4 rating on WUTV on Wednesday (opposite the Buffalo Sabres’ 6-0 rout of Boston on cable’s NBC Sports Network) and the second Hollywood installment had a 9.3 rating. Those are very steep declines here for “Idol.” It remains a very strong demographic show but Fox should have to stop using the promos calling it TV’s No.1 show pretty soon if this is also a national trend.

The political controversy surrounding Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler had me thinking about Channel 2’s equally-praised local promo to the tune of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Better Days.”

Some Republicans thought that the Eastwood ad talking about a strong second half for America was pro-President Obama because it addressed the resurgence of the automobile industry in Detroit made possible by a government bailout. That wasn’t Eastwood’s intention. He voted for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election won by President Obama.

Under the same dubious logic, some people might think that the idea that there are better days ahead in Buffalo was a promo for the President and all the Democratic politicians who in charge of local and state government.

And I’m very sure that wasn’t Channel 2’s intention in its feel-good promo.

PBS reports that the highest-rated national program at 9 p.m. opposite the Super Bowl Sunday was the increasingly popular “Downton Abbey.” Of course, the other broadcast networks run repeats and comedy shows opposite the Super Bowl because they don’t want to waste fresh programming. I don’t have a rating for “Abbey” here yet.

Thank you to a local journalist who reminded me that the Scott Brown story on Channel 2 about how Danny Neaverth and a business partner declined to give The Beatles a $3,500 guarantee to play Memorial Auditorium after their legendary appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” had been reported by two different local newspapers over the years. In other words, the story was so old that it was new again.

Ann Curry Silly Moment of the Week: During a Monday interview with “Smash” star Debra Messing, Curry seemed astounded that the musical drama had received reviews even before it had aired. Earth to Ann: Just about all TV shows are reviewed by critics before they air.

No matter how hard one tried to avoid the interview about the former White House intern that now claims she had an affair with President Kennedy, it was impossible. I purposely missed Meredith Vieira’s initial report on Wednesday’s “Rock Center” but woke up Thursday to see Curry interview the intern. When asked why she wrote a book about the affair she claims to have had more than 50 years ago, the former intern initially said she felt the disclosure would help her current relationships. I thought she revealed that she had an amazing memory about her feelings of something that supposedly happened 50 years ago. I can’t remember my feelings about things that happened to me last month in such detail. It would have been preferable if she had dealt with it privately in therapy for however long that might take and spared TV viewers a sordid story that may have made some viewers feel they needed a shower after watching it. Shame on NBC for giving her such a big forum for a claim it even repeatedly said was unverified (except for being addressed in a book) and that added nothing to our understanding of history.

I woke up this morning in time to see a story on the CBS Morning News about what is in the FBI files on Apple founder Steve Jobs. The files didn’t reveal anything that isn’t in the best-selling book about Jobs that revealed his reality distortion field, his drug use and other less than flattering details at the same time explaining some of his negatives pushed his workers to do things they didn’t think possible.

Here’s a “Shameless” plug for Showtime: The pay-cable channel has renewed “Shameless” for a third season, “House of Lies” for a second season and “Californication” for a sixth season. I would have pulled the plug on “Californication.”


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Ch. 2′s Brown May Get Another Emmy, Yeah, Yeah Yeah


English: Hugh Laurie at TV series House event ...

Hugh Laurie: "House" Closing

In the spirit of Channel 2’s “10 at 10″ on WNYO-TV, here are the top 10 stories of the day in reverse order of importance. All right, what I’m trying to say is none of them are really that important.

10: If there is one former Western New Yorker who is happy that a movie is coming out based on the TV series “21 Jump Street,” it is Amherst native Patrick Hasburgh. He had the creative rights to the 1987-91  series that starred Johnny Depp and he probably is cashing a sizable check for the film rights. Hasburgh, who now lives in Mexico with his wife and two children, also created short-lived 1990 series that starred Brad Pitt (“Glory Days”) and George Clooney (“Sunset Beat”).

9. I hadn’t realized how painful it can be to listen to college basketball analyst Bobby Knight until he sat next to play-by-play man Brent Musburger during Syracuse’s overtime win over Georgetown Wednesday night. Knight often just accentuates the obvious. And Musburger obviously hasn’t lost his touch of overrating or overhyping just about every player in the world.

8. Channel 2 probably has another Emmy Award winning coming for reporter’s Scott Brown 10-minute Tuesday piece on a local man who saved a Florida woman’s life by giving her a kidney.

7. Fox and the producers of “House” gave out statements late Wednesday announcing this eighth season of the drama starring Hugh Laurie will be its last. Good call. It is too expensive to produce now that its ratings have slipped and the medical mysteries seem to have run their course. Most viewers probably don’t realize the show is produced by an arm of NBC, a network that could have used “House” or any other hit show in the past eight years.   

6. I’ve watched CNN’s coverage of the Republican race for the Presidency for weeks but hadn’t realized until Tuesday that it has created an opening for its primary night coverage featuring The Final Four candidates that is so over-the-top you might think it was a for a reality show. Come to think of it, it is a much more suspenseful reality show than any on TV these days. From the words used in CNN’s opening Tuesday, you got the sense the cable news network knew that Rick Santorum was going to upset Matt Romney in three states before the first votes were cast.

5. Channel 2’s Scott Brown also may get another Emmy nomination for his story earlier this week about former DJ Danny Neaverth and a colleague declining to guarantee $3,500 to bring the Beatles to Memorial Auditorium in 1964 the day after Paul, John, George and Ringo made their historic appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” According to the story, Danny was worried he’d lose his shirt. From the story, it is obvious he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

4. I’m still trying to figure out why Channel 2 needed Maryalice Demler to join sports anchor Adam Benigni to interview Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black live during Wednesday’s newscast before the Sabres’ 6-0 victory over the Boston Bruins.

3. One of the Super Bowl ads getting the most criticism was the one in which a beautiful model told men that if they give women what they want for Valentine’s Day, they’d get what they’d want. On Wednesday, I heard a radio ad for a local Spa pretty much delivering the same sexist message.

2. Inquiring minds want to know if Channel 2 is only going to show one Sabres game off of MSG and, if so, why. I’d expect the rating for Saturday’s game with Tampa will be so high that the station and MSG will try and find a way to carry another game after the February sweeps end. However, Channel 2’s network, NBC, can’t be too happy about the arrangement interfering with their prime time schedule too often. Saturdays work best since NBC carries repeats of series in prime time.

1. How fitting the countdown should end with Melissa Holmes, who anchors “10 at 10″ on WNYO-TV. The station plastered the word “exclusive” Wednesday over her interview with Bishop Edward Kmiec that dealt with ongoing topics concerning the Catholic Church, some newer than others. The most volatile issue involves the federal mandate that would require religious institutions to buy health insurance that covers birth control. It was a good idea to get the Bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo on the record even if there wasn’t much new in the interview. Holmes asked some loaded questions, including whether President Obama was “grandstanding.” Bishop Kmiec smiled and said the president was trying to get re-elected. I don’t think that interview will get an Emmy nomination.


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“Smash” Has Decent Opening Night Here



This is what I’m thinking and what you are asking:

Inquiring minds want to know how the Monday premiere of NBC’s “Smash” did in Western New York. It had an 8.4 rating on Channel 2, which is significantly higher than NBC series get here that air at 10 p.m. or anytime for that matter.

However, NBC carried a massive amount of promos for the premiere of the series starring Katharine McPhee and Debra Messing. The good news is that “Smash” won its time slot here over CBS’ “Hawaii 5-0” (6.9) and ABC’s “Castle” (3.5) and kept a good portion of the lead-in from the second episode of “The Voice,” which averaged a 10.0 rating here. That was a significant drop-off from the 17.4 rating here for the post-Super Bowl episode of “The Voice” but in line with what “American Idol” is getting on many nights locally this season.

“Smash,” which was available online before its network premiere, also did decently nationally. It was the top-rated 10 p.m. drama of the TV season, but lost a larger percentage of “Voice” viewers than it did in Buffalo and saw a big drop in the second half hour. The big test for “Smash” comes with its second episode next Monday when NBC finds out how many people will return or whether it was a one-night wonder.

Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO-TV was in second place in the time slot with a 5.4 rating. Channel 2’s “10 at 10” had a 2.6 rating on WNYO-TV. That is less than half of Channel 4′s rating at 10 but still better than it usually does there.

If you missed “Smash,” Channel 2 is carrying a repeat of the pilot at 10 p.m. Saturday after it carries the Buffalo Sabres game with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The strong lead-in from “Smash” provided Channel 2 News with a big boost at 11 p.m. as well. It won on that night for the first time in quite a while with an 8.2 rating to Channel 4’s 7.4 and Channel 7’s 4.6. It may be hard to believe in this day and age that lead-ins matter that much but they do. Channel 4 usually dominates at 11 p.m. with a big assist from the nightly lead-ins provided by CBS programming.

Of course, “Smash” wouldn’t have made it on NBC if another musical series, “Glee,” hadn’t been so successful. Fox only is going to carry two more episodes of “Glee” this February and then give it a six-week rest before its April 10th return. In the interim, Fox is moving the comedies “Raising Hope” and “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” in the 8 p.m. Tuesday hour until “Glee” returns.

Speaking of “Smash,” inquiring minds want to know why NBC has moved the news program “Rock Center” from 10 p.m. Monday to 9 p.m. Wednesday. That’s simple. It felt that “Smash” had a better chance of success following another musical series “The Voice.” It is called audience flow in network speak.

That new Channel 2 policy of declining to air video of the Leroy teens that are exhibiting Tourette’s-like symptoms looked out of step Thursday with network news decision makers. The day started with NBC – Channel 2’s own network – carrying such video on “Today” and ended with ABC’s “Nightline” leading the program with a report on the LeRoy teens that also included the video.


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Strange Choices by Ch.2, ABC


PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 10:  Actors Leslie Hope...

Leslie Hope and Bruce Greenwood

What in the world possessed Channel 2 to have doctors create its news policy? What in the world possessed ABC to carry a documentary-style horror series?

Those are today’s questions.

Let’s start with Channel 2’s latest bit of grandstanding. On Monday night, anchors Maryalice Demler and Scott Levin announced that the station will no longer carry video of the LeRoy High School students who are exhibiting mysterious tics and verbal outbreaks likened to Tourette Syndrome because doctors feel it is bad for their recovery.

“2 on Your Side not only takes journalism seriously, we also take seriously our role in the community,” said Demler. “If not showing the teens truly helps, then we are all in.”

Levin acknowledged that Channel 2 couldn’t control what other media outlets do, including its own network (NBC) in covering the story. “We’ve decided because doctors say this is best for these kids in this situation ” that the station is not showing the video unless or until other diagnoses are made.

Channel 2 News likes to tell its viewers why it doesn’t cover things. This announcement follows a recent announcement earlier why it wasn’t providing details of rumors and reports that were unconfirmed about another big story.

Sure enough, Channel 2 couldn’t control its own network. This morning’s edition of NBC’s “Today” started with video of several LeRoy teens exhibiting the tics. At around 7:45 a.m., “Today” also ran a lengthy report featuring video of a few LeRoy teens and their tics and added that similar video is being posted on Facebook and You Tube.  

The question isn’t whether Channel 2 can control its own network or social networks. It’s whether it should give up news control to doctors who think these TV news reports are bad for their patients. If Channel 2 used this policy nightly, a lot more stories about other topics might not make it on the air since some psychologists believe TV news can be bad for our health.

Now I can live without ever seeing the video of these teens again. It can be gratuitous at times. But Channel 2 had a couple of alternatives before announcing its policy. It could have stopped running the video without making some big announcement that seems like a criticism of other media. Or it could have just run the video when warranted and leave the policing of news to someone else.

Presumably, the LeRoy teenager have parents. Let them try and keep their children away from local TV news. After all, doctors expect the help of parents when treating children– not the media.

Now on to “The River,” the ABC series about a missing host of a TV adventure series that has a two-hour premiere starting at 9 tonight on Channel 7.

It is easy to see what made ABC decide to give a very different looking series a try for eight episodes. The success of the movie “Paranormal Activity” undoubtedly had some influence on the network. So did the fact that Steven Spielberg is an executive producer.

But different can be a tough sell on network TV.  And “The River” isn’t easy to watch because of its hand-held camera video style and is even harder to explain.

It stars Bruce Greenwood as a world-renowned TV host and former People magazine cover boy, Dr. Emmet Cole, who was lost in the Amazon several months ago. He is seen primarily through flashbacks. His wife, Tess (Leslie Hope of “24”) needs to persuade their angry son, Lincoln (Joe Anderson) to go on a search mission to get a TV crew to finance the mission and make a TV show about it. Paul Blackthorne plays a TV producer and Eloise Mumford plays the daughter of a missing cameraman. The cast of characters also include a cameraman, a security guard and an engineer with a daughter who has paranormal gifts.

All of the characters have secrets and few of them are who they appear to be. In between some weirdness involving dolls, insects and dangerous ponds that grab people, the characters reveal their pasts in clichéd one-on-one discussions.

Things can get a little dull waiting for the horrors to occur and they’re not all that scary. “The River” didn’t grab me, but it wouldn’t shock me if it could scare up viewers who are searching for something they haven’t seen before on TV and are unlikely to see again.

Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4


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Giant Ratings Here for Super Win

The ratings for Sunday’s Super Bowl were certainly super in Western New York.

The New York Giants’ 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots had a preliminary rating of 52.9 on Channel 2, meaning 52.9 percent of area households were watching Eli Manning outduel Tom Brady. Nationally it had a 47.8 preliminary rating. Buffalo was the No.8 highest-rated metered market in the country, behind Nashville and Jacksonville (which tied fior 6th) and ahead of Kansas City. Boston was No.1 with a 56.7., ahead of host Indianapolis (56.4). New York finished at No. 18  with a still impressive 49.7. 

The Buffalo rating is slightly higher than the 52.7 rating that Green Bay’s win over Pittsburgh had here for the 2011 Super Bowl.

The rating for the Giants’ win peaked on Channel 2 at an incredible 59.0 during the final 15 minutes when the game was decided.

The second season premiere of the prime time show, “The Voice,” that followed the post-game show averaged a 17.9 rating on Channel 2.

Speaking of incredible, the Buffalo News ran a story on the front page today about Channel 2 carrying Saturday’s 7 p.m. Buffalo Sabres game with the Tampa Bay Lightning off of MSG. Channel 2 didn’t even make it that big a deal when it reported it Sunday night on the newscast after the Super Bowl.

Channel 2 was a logical choice to carry a Sabres game because it is affiliated with the NHL hockey network, NBC. It also was the only station to send a reporter (Adam Benigni) to cover the Sabres early season games in Europe.

It isn’t front-page news, but NBC also is scheduled to carry a repeat of tonight’s heavily-promoted premiere of  “Smash” on Saturday. It will air here after Channel 2 carries the Sabres game. NBC gave Channel 2 special permission to carry the “Smash” repeat at a time that it wasn’t originally scheduled to be carried. An original episode of the soon-to-be-canceled “The Firm” and a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” that were scheduled to air in prime time Saturday now will air on Channel 2 in late night after “Saturday Night Live.”

This Just In: The national rating that came in late this afternoon for the Super Bowl was 47.0 and was the best in 26 years. The game was the most-watched show in in U.S. history even though it wasn’t the highest rated show. That seeming contradiction is possible because each rating point equals more households every year because of annual increases in the number of TV households. 


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