Monday, December 30, 2013

False Advertising?

by Bill Holmes 

I'm not sure what the answer to this situation is. I think it is at the very least somewhat deceptive. I'm also sure it is not illegal. I know it's wrong. It's not a big deal, but it does bother me. Since this is my blog, I can use it to bitch about little stuff that irritates me.

There is a local TV station, CBS 11, that is running promotions or advertisements about their news department. It's not unusual for local stations to promote their news coverage. Usually it consists of some clips of dramatic stories with distressed field reporters interspersed with shots of the earnest and well coiffed anchors. Sometimes it is just the smiling attractive news anchors often along with "chief" meteorologist and sports guy. Sometimes they are bragging about their mobile and remote capabilities, their station helicopter or the brand new radar. Recently we have had a couple of stations making a big deal about their band new studio remodels. One has a new "state of the art" building. All the promos are accompanied by dramatic music and a very deep voiced announcer. They are also all BS.

A shiny new anchor desk or backdrop doesn't make the news coverage better. Moving the weather guy/girl from the left side of the set to the right doesn't improve the forecasting. I get all that and mostly ignore it. Just like I ignore it when news programs, local or national, brag about "exclusive" or "as only seen on (fill in the news outlet)".

What got my attention about this particular case is that the promos are mixing two different histories into a consolidated story.

The local CBS affiliate is KTVT channel 11, advertised as CBS11 or CBSDFW. The station is now owned by CBS but that was not always true. KTVT had a long history as an independent TV station and was once a superstation like WTBS or WGN. The station was founded in 1955 and remained independent until 1995 when it became the CBS affiliate. That occurred because longtime CBS affiliate in DFW, KDFW channel 4, switched to the new Fox network. CBS bought KTVT in 1999.

1970's anchor John Whitson
So what's the problem? KTVT is mixing their independent history with CBS's history. In one of their promotional campaigns they mix old channel 11 photos with pictures of Edward R. Morrow and Walter Cronkite. I can assure you that Eddie and Walt's broadcasts were not transmitted on channel 11 in the DFW viewing area. They were on KDFW channel 4. The old KTVT photos are pretty funny. They are obviously staged. Also there are no sophisticated studio sets or mobile units. One picture has a reporter bolting out of a sedan with a Channel 11 News logo on the car door. The last shots of the promo shows an old black and white picture of an independent KTVT anchor team from the 1970's that fades to the current anchor team from the CBS affiliate.
Current CBS 11 Anchors
So which history does the current channel 11 get to choose? Are they descendants of the old independent KTVT, of the CBS network or maybe a new entity that started in the 1990's? The call letters and channel are the only things that have remained the same. There is a different owner, a new network affiliation and all different personnel.

To me it is like if a southern food diner was started in 1963 by one family then the building was sold after 25 years to another family that served Mexican food. Is it the restaurant's 50th anniversary or their 25th? Only the address and general type of business remained the same.

This doesn't rank among the world's top 25 problems maybe not even in the top 25 million. There is also no positively, absolutely correct answer. Personally I don't like the manipulation of history although I do find the pictures from the old news team funny. What is your opinion?


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