LOOK, UP IN THE SKY, IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A COMPLAINT!
by Buck Quigley - posted 2:35 pm, March 24, 2008
Members of the National association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET)/CWA Local 25 held a rally in front of WKBW Channel 7 Studios at South Elmwood and Church Street this morning. The union is protesting the harsh bargaining stance adopted by lawyers for Connecticut hedge fund company Silver Point Capital L.P., who acquired a controlling interest in the station’s parent company Granite Broadcasting, when Granite was facing bankruptcy. Union members have been working without a contract since January 31, 2008.
While it has been apparent that something’s wrong by the various layoffs of on-air personalities at the station over the past year, NABET members are seeking to show that the changes don’t end there.
The number of technicians working to produce programming at the station is down from 38 to 14—replaced with an automated system that may have reduced operating costs at the expense of broadcast quality. According to NABET President Roy Schrodt, the salespeople for the new system “inflated what the equipment was able or capable of doing and [the station] was sold a bill of goods. We tried to tell them that we’re familiar with the line you’re looking at, and you will have problems. They certainly didn’t want to hear from any of the union people.” Viewers have noticed a pronounced increase in audio and video problems as a result.
Schrodt says they are encouraging people to contact the FCC and file complaints against WKBW for acting against the community’s best interest by allowing the harsh cutbacks to affect the quality of local news coverage.
To draw attention to the problem, the union contracted a plane to circle the city with a banner towing the message: “TURN OFF 7 NEWS!” They also have a Web site where you can learn more about their concerns.