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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 28)

The closing hour of the Cowboys' final pre-season game, against Minnesota, went head-to-head Thursday night against Barack Obama's acceptance speech, also originating from a football stadium.

It wasn't much of a contest, of course. From 9 to 10 p.m., Dallas-Minnesota drew 280,094 D-FW homes on TXA21. In that same hour, ABC, CBS and NBC drew a combined audience of 263,045 homes for Obama's biggest political address.

Overall, the three-hour Cowboys game averaged an identical 280,094 homes, bludgeoning NBC's early-starting telecast of a Jaguars-Redskins yawner (53,583 homes). Meanwhile, here's our breakdown of the 9 to 10 p.m. audiences for Obama's speech on a mix of seven broadcast and cable networks:

ABC and NBC -- 94,988 homes each
CNN -- 82,810 homes
CBS -- 73,068 homes
FNC -- 68,197 homes
PBS -- 60,890 homes
MSNBC -- 48,712 homes

In the local news derby, the 10 p.m. competition was slightly delayed by network overruns. WFAA8 won handily in both total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 and Fox4 tied in total homes at 6 a.m., with the Peacock prevailing in the 25-to-54 demo.

WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. competition and also won in total homes at 5 p.m. Fox4 took the gold at 5 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Aug. 27)

D-FW audiences for Democratic convention coverage on NBC and CBS again fell sharply despite sizable lead-in advantages while ABC saw its rating arrow point upward.

Before detailing the latest 9 to 10 p.m. Nielsens -- when seven networks went head-to-head from Denver -- here's a look at what NBC, CBS and ABC inherited from 8:45 to 9 p.m.:

America's Got Talent (NBC) -- 182,670 homes
Criminal Minds (CBS) -- 160,750 homes
Supernanny (ABC) -- 82,810 homes

Here are the 9 to 10 p.m. convention rankings:

ABC -- 85,246 homes
NBC -- 70,632 homes
FNC and CNN -- 63,326 homes each
CBS and MSNBC -- 48, 712 homes each
PBS -- 46,276 homes

In other words, CBS is getting perilously close to being the least-watched network for convention coverage in the country's fifth-largest television market. MSNBC's parity with CBS on Wednesday night is pretty astonishing.

The local news Nielsens gave WFAA8 sweeps at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. in total homes and among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

But those aren't the numbers that management is watching closest. With classrooms back in play, WFAA8 continues to struggle in the key 6 a.m. competition, where Fox 4 won again Wednesday in both ratings measurements.

NBC5 ran second and WFAA8 remained in third. In the total homes measurement, WFAA8 finished farther behind Fox 4 -- a deficit of 26,792 homes -- than it ran ahead of perennially last CBS11 (a gap of 17,049 homes).

WFAA8 won the early morning May "sweeps" ratings competition. But its resultant summertime downturn is showing signs of carrying over into the school year.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Aug. 26)

Hillary Clinton's big night -- "No way, no how, no McCain" -- propelled Tuesday's second night of the Democratic National Convention. D-FW viewing levels spiked upward from Monday's, but with CBS still face-down in a ditch and barely ahead of MSNBC.

Mrs. Clinton's speech stretched past the prime-time witching hour to 10:07 p.m., with the Big Three commercial broadcast networks then sticking around a few more minutes before abdicating to local newscasts. Here are the seven-way total homes ratings from 9 to 10:15 p.m. (Nielsen Media Research measures in 15-minute increments):

ABC -- 116,909 homes
NBC -- 94,988 homes
FNC -- 73,068 homes
CNN -- 63,326 homes
PBS -- 48, 712 homes
CBS -- 41,405 homes
MSNBC -- 38,970 homes

CBS' Katie Couric-helmed convention coverage also had fewer viewers in the 9 to 10 p.m. hour than Fox4's local newscast, MY27's pair of Still Standing repeats, TXA21's Dr. Phil rerun and CW33's 9 p.m. local newscast.

Prime-time's biggest draw, a 7 p.m. repeat of CBS' NCIS, attracted 168,056 total homes, although the aggregate, seven-network convention ratings put Mrs. Clinton in far more homes.

The two-hour return of NBC's America's Got Talent, after a lengthy Olympics layoff, drew a less than imposing 158,314 homes.

In the local news derby, the 10 p.m. newscasts were thrown off schedule and therefore out of this report by convention overruns.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 won in total homes and tied for first place with NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. With school back in session and the ratings more instructive, WFAA8 again ran third. Its total homes numbers were particularly dismal.

NBC5 swept the 5 p.m. competition in both measurements and WFAA8 did likewise at 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 25) -- updated

It's a beautiful day in the ratings 'hood, with all kinds of interesting numbers from Monday's report cards.

Let's start with opening night of the Democratic National Convention, where seven networks collided during the 9 to 10 p.m. hour. None of them -- cable or broadcast -- were able to outpoint Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast, which drew a modest-sized 87,682 D-FW homes. But the timeslot winner came from the cable world, where TNT's "summer season finale" of Saving Grace tipped the scales at 107,166 homes.

Here are the 9 to 10 p.m. convention numbers, in order of finish:

NBC -- 70,632 homes
ABC -- 60,890 homes
CNN -- 56,019 homes
FNC -- 58,583 homes
PBS -- 48,712 homes
CBS -- 38,970 homes
MSNBC -- 24,356 homes

If you're Katie Couric, that's another ratings indictment, at least in the North Texas viewing area. Especially when your lead-in attraction, a repeat of The New Adventures of Old Christine, draws 124,216 homes from 8:30 to 9 p.m. while ABC's rerun of Samantha Who? lures just 48,712 homes in that same half-hour.

Also of note: Presumed Republican nominee John McCain's appearance on Monday's Tonight Show, drew a significantly larger audience than NBC's one hour of convention coverage. It attracted 104,731 homes overall and 121,780 in the first half-hour, which included most of McCain's guest shot.

Pre-convention, the Peacock had prime-time's most-watched attraction, a new episode of Deal or No Deal (197,284 homes). At 8 p.m., the Peacock's premiere of America's Toughest Jobs had 129,087 homes. Fox's two-hour reprise of last season's Prison Break finale drew 53,583 homes in its first hour and 51,148 in the second.

In the local news derby, let's look at those mostly bigger "Back to School" numbers for the 6 a.m. hour. Audiences for the previous Monday (Aug. 18) are in parentheses for both total homes and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 -- 87,682 (80,375)
NBC5 -- 77,939 (73,078)
WFAA8 -- 65,761 (53,583)
CBS11 -- 38,970 (36,534)

Fox4 -- 58,890 (44,168)
NBC5 -- 55,946 (50,057)
WFAA8 -- 53,001 (55,946)
CBS11 -- 38,279 (29,445)

WFAA8 fared much better at 10 p.m., winning comfortably in both ratings measurements Monday in the first four-way competition since NBC's Olympics telecasts were extinguished.

WFAA8 also recaptured much of the 5 and 6 p.m. terrain it had lost to NBC5 during the Olympics. This time the Peacock prevailed only at 5 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, with WFAA8 sweeping the three other contests.

Picky Picky (Vol. 16) -- your right to know (?)

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Recent evictees Kenneth Taylor, Macie Jepson, Rebecca Miller

Bodies have been flying lately, some by choice and others very much against their wills.

Whatever the circumstances, anchors and reporters have been exiting D-FW television newsrooms in unprecedented numbers in the past year. It's pretty much half-and-half between those who are voluntarily changing careers or stations and others getting axed because of budget cuts or alleged on-the-job deficiencies.

WFAA8 anchor Macie Jepson, laid off last week after eight years with the station, never saw it coming according to sources within the newsroom. Efforts to reach her, via various intermediaries, have been unsuccessful so far. She reportedly is still very shaken by how suddenly it all ended for her at WFAA8.

Station management usually will confirm an employee departure if asked, but infrequently volunteers such news. Beyond that, the standard policy is either a flat "no comment" or a generic one-size-fits-all response. You're a promotable part of the news "family" until the day you become a non-person. Literally, it's then nothing personal.

Dismissed employees also are often afraid or reluctant to say much. TXA21/CBS11 anchor Kenneth Taylor, a generally outgoing guy whose contract recently wasn't renewed, has virtually vanished without a trace. But did he really "owe" viewers at least a goodbye? And did management owe him anything other than paying his salary for the duration of a two-year contract?

Some discarded employees, such as former NBC5 early morning meteorologist Rebecca Miller, have been willing to go to bat for themselves. Ex-Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar, terminated earlier this year after a lengthy suspension, also chose to give her side of the story in no uncertain terms and has pending legal action against the station.

In an earlier era, both station management and aggrieved employees were far more willing to take their chances in the public arena. As documented in a previously posted Back Channels post, sports anchor Dale Hansen and his onetime bosses at KDFW-TV (Channel 4) played rock 'em, sock 'em robots in the brief period before he became an institution at WFAA8.

Hardly anyone plays that game anymore. Lawyers increasingly are willing and able to pounce, so much so that even a benign statement such as "We wish (fill in the blank) well" is thought to be a possibly risky proposition. It's gotten to the point where wishing someone well might imply a job well done. And if that's the case, then why has that person been let go?

So in Jepson's case, management declined to say anything at all about an eight-year employee who reportedly left in tears after WFAA8 pretty much blindsided her.

Judging from the high volume of reader comments -- 58 and counting as of this writing -- many of you both empathize with Jepson and want to know more about why she's suddenly history at WFAA8. But are you entitled to even that much? Here are three talking points:

A. Media companies, ostensibly operating in the public interest, have an obvious obligation to be more forthcoming about the dismissals of on-camera personnel in particular. After all, they're constantly prying into other people's lives. And those who won't play ball with them regularly are portrayed as having something to hide.

B. Media companies aren't immune from lawsuits and have to protect themselves with the same diligence and vigilance as the "private sector." Yes, they come into your homes and solicit your loyalty to their newscasts. But personnel decisions in the end are their own business.

C. It's enough simply to know who's coming and who's going. Beyond that who cares why or how? People change jobs all the time, whether by choice or otherwise. The people who work in TV news aren't royalty. Good night and good luck and move on.

Your comments are welcome.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 22-24) -- updated

Blown out by the Olympics the previous week, the Dallas Cowboys rebooted Friday night to thrash NBC's Summer Games on D-FW's overall Nielsen scorecard.

The Cowboys' first pre-season win, by one point against the Houston Texans, averaged 360,469 homes on CBS11. The three hours and 15 minutes of Olympics coverage directly opposite football drew 248,431 homes.

The boys and girls from Beijing took the gold among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, though, averaging 230,198 of 'em to edge the Cowboys-Texans (220,738).

Saturday's nighttime Olympics coverage on NBC drew a comparatively paltry 231,382 total homes, the smallest audience for NBC's 15 nights of competition, minus the opening and closing ceremonies.

Sunday night's gaudy sendoff from the "Bird's Nest" expectedly dominated the prime-time ratings, luring 300,066 total homes to more than double the audience for the most-watched competing program, a rerun of CBS' Cold Case (146,136 homes).

In Friday's local news derby, WFAA8 swept a pint-sized two-way 10 p.m. faceoff with Fox4 while the Olympics and the Cowboys both loaded up.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 won in total homes while NBC5 took first among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5, enjoying the Olympics' halo effect for the last time, swept the 5 and 6 p.m. newscast competitions in both ratings measurements.

School daze for kids; happy days for early morning news shows

bts4 back_to_school3

For most kids it's definitely nothing to shout about. For D-FW's early morning newscasts, it's close to being a Super Bowl.

There's no better cure for a summer's worth of depressed viewing levels than a rocket-booster known as "Back to School" day. Moms and dads throughout the viewing area at last will be paying renewed attention to the siren songs of this populous market's four major waker-uppers.

After all, little Johnny Appleseed might need a raincoat. Or in upcoming months a jacket. Furthermore, what's on that ever-nutritious public school lunch menu -- pizza, corn dogs or chicken fingers? And could heavy traffic cause anyone to miss the opening bell?

You're going to see a full-blown and almost assuredly over-blown effort Monday from the sunrise shows on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. "Back to School" day is a big event for all of them, meaning vacations are over for each show's A-list anchors. Viewers won't be put in the clutches of another ratings "sweeps" month until November. But this is bigger than that because of the potential early morning growth curve.

NBC5's early show has the most built-in momentum after a java jolt from two weeks' worth of Olympics telecasts.

WFAA8 won the May "sweeps," but has slumped this summer. Is this just a seasonal thing?

Fox4, still a formidable contender, will have to push hard to return to the top.

CBS11's ratings have perked up a bit in recent weeks, but its dawn patrollers remain stuck in fourth. Can they continue to inch up the ladder now that the real games are on again?

Monday will be the first big report card for all of them. No more grading on the curve. And oh yeah, sorry about that, kids. We all have to play our roles.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 21)

The Olympics again were ratings gold for NBC and NBC5 --- and not just in prime-time.

The local station also scored with its live and expectedly gushy late afternoon telecast of homegirl Nastia Liukin's DFW Airport press conference. Beginning just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, it propelled the second half of NBC5's 4 p.m. newscast to a comfortable win in total homes and among two key advertiser targets, 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 18-year-old Parker gymnast and a yahooing crowd sprinkled with a few yahoos drew 129,087 D-FW homes opposite regularly scheduled syndicated entertainment programming on Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11. Judge Judy on Fox4 took the silver with 99,860 homes from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

But it wasn't nearly as close in the two demographic darlings. NBC5 and Nastia more than doubled any of its rivals' ratings in the 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 Nielsens.

Thursday's nighttime Olympics coverage, climaxed by a live beach volleyball final that stretched from 10 to 11:12 p.m., averaged 382,380 homes overall.

The gold medal win by the USA duo of Todd "The Professor" Rogers and Phil "Thin Beast" Dalhausser drew a slightly higher 389,696 homes. Olympic audiences peaked between 9:45 and 10 p.m., when 496,862 homes watched.

WFAA8 again won the downsized 10 p.m. local news races in both total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 ran first at 6 a.m. in total homes and shared the gold with WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

The Peacock ran the table at 5 and 6 p.m., with Fox4 a close second in both ratings measurements at the earlier hour.

"Chopper Chip" no longer winging it, but still trafficking in freeway jams


The higher costs of flying high have led to a forced landing for D-FW television's last airborne traffic correspondent.

"Yes, Chip Waggoner is reporting from the ground now," Fox4 news director Maria Barrs confirmed Tuesday.

She declined further comment, but sources say that budget concerns are the overriding issue. Although they've recently dropped somewhat, hefty fuel costs are the latest bottom-line worries for stations that also have to feed gas-guzzling satellite trucks in pursuit of various live shots throughout North Texas.

Waggoner, who dubs himself "Chopper Chip" on the station's myfoxdfw.com web site, has been operating solely out of the studio since earlier this month. He's primarily featured on Fox4's early morning Good Day program, where fellow travelers Alexa Conomos (WFAA8), Tammy Dombeck (NBC5) and Teresa Frosini (CBS11) have long been helicopter-less.

Some Fox4 viewers have noticed the grounding. In an August 9th comment on Waggoner's Fox4 blog, "ProudAmerican" asked, "Why are you in the studio instead of high above the metroplex? You are not going to capture those high speed persuits (sic) in a studio. Get back in the air!"

After returning from vacation, Waggoner replied on Aug. 18th, "I'd love to ProudAmerican. I really would!"

All four major D-FW television news providers still regularly deploy choppers on an as-needed basis. A day seldom goes by without a blazing building crying out for an overhead shot.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 11)

Still on fire, the Summer Games decimated all in their path Monday night to give NBC another mega-ratings boost.

The Olympics averaged 494,427 D-FW homes, peaking at 616,207 between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. ABC in particular offered scant resistance with a lineup of High School Musical: Get In the Picture (29,227 homes), a pair of Samantha Who? repeats (31,623) and The Mole (41,405).

Advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds also flocked to NBC. The Olympics averaged a monster 384,715 viewers in this key demographic.

CBS' Two and a Half Men rerun drew the largest total audience (148,572 homes) opposite the big blast from Beijing. But that was less than one-third of the homes tuned to the Olympics from 8 to 8:30 p.m.

In the local news derby, CBS11 comfortably won a downsized three-way race at 10 p.m. with 133,958 homes. Fox4 countered with a win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 otherwise ran the table at 6 a.m., and at 5 and 6 p.m. It's the first time in recent memory that WFAA8 went without a gold in any of the four major local news competitions.

NBC5's early evening newscasts should prosper in the ratings during this week and next as warmup acts for the Peacock's prime-time Olympics coverage. It's a good time for rival stations to send their A-list anchors on vacation. All resistance is futile.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 8-10)

Could the Dallas Cowboys' first, largely meaningless pre-season game on CBS11 actually beat the mighty Olympics on NBC?

Yes, at least for the first 45 minutes of Saturday night's game. The Summer Games then fought back after QB Tony Romo and the regulars hit the sidelines while teammates bungled their way toward a two-touchdown loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Here are the eye-opening Nielsen stats from 9 to 9:45 p.m.

Cowboys-Chargers -- 367,776
Olympics -- 338,548

Cowboys-Chargers -- 341,562
Olympics -- 312,117

Cowboys-Chargers -- 309,033
Olympics -- 252,272

Overall Saturday night, the Olympics averaged 343,420 homes and the Cowboys, 311,757.

Otherwise nothing could touch the games from Beijing, spurred by swimmer Michael Phelps' live quests for a record eight gold medals.

Sunday's pulsating late night U.S. swim team win over France, with Phelps swimming the opening leg, amassed 521,218 total homes between 10:15 and 10:45 p.m. Overall, NBC's nighttime coverage averaged a robust 474,942 homes. And Sunday morning's U.S. basketball team win over the host country's Yao Ming-led quintet drew 194,848 homes.

Friday night's wow-inducing opening ceremonies from Beijing's "Bird's Nest" averaged 443,279 D-FW homes while also setting a national ratings record for a non-domestic curtain-raiser. The most-watched competing prime-time program, Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast, barely made a peep with 65,761 homes.

In the local news derby, NBC's Olympics spillover into 10 p.m. newscasts reduced viewership to dink-a-doo levels among the three combatants. Fox4 ran first in total homes with 77,939 while WFAA8 had a slight edge among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 won in both ratings measurements at 6 a.m., as did WFAA8 in the 5 p.m. hour. Spoils were split at 6 .m., with NBC5 taking the total homes competition and WFAA8 prevailing in the 25-to-54 demo.

Former CBS11 reporter Kaushal Patel now with CNN International


Former CBS11/TXA21 news staffer Kaushal Patel, laid off in late March as part of a cost-cutting CBS corporate mandate, has bounced back as a new addition to CNN International.

And as previously reported, it's now official. TXA21/CBS11 anchor Kenneth Taylor has been dropped after management declined to renew his contract. His "News Team" picture and bio have been removed from the stations' Web sites.
Ed Bark

Doocy's Doozy: How-weird is that? (updated)

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Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy, Josh Hamilton and Josh Howard

Featured sports anchor Mike Doocy is one of Fox4's more prolific, dedicated bloggers.

Yeah, compared to whom?

Well, Good Day co-anchor Tim Ryan hasn't touched his personal myfoxdfw.com blog since Oct. 23, 2007. That's a long dry spell.

Anyway, frequent bloggers are gonna make a few errors along the way. And Doocy, newly returned from Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, may have been suffering from brain lag when he posted this on-site observation on Aug. 5, 8:55 p.m. from the Rangers-Yankees game.

"Coming off the Byrd walk-off Monday night, there's another big crowd here for the Yankee game tonight," he wrote. "Some people in the house are even Ranger fans. A Josh Howard homer has set the pace for a 5-1 lead midway through this game."

Hmm, the Mavericks' troubled forward and Rangers star slugger Josh Hamilton, who hit the home run, both have admitted drug use on the table and some tattoos, too. But otherwise they're not too easily confused.

Perhaps Doocy had Howard's recent drag racing bust on his mind. Or maybe he was wondering whether Howard has had a "hit" lately as part of his off-season training regimen.

Get some rest, Newy. I mean, Mike.

Postscript: Doocy, presumably bright-eyed by Wednesday morning, rejoined in an email, "I had just eaten a large bag of ballpark kettle corn. Was a little light-headed, I guess."

There might be a kernel of truth to that. Meanwhile, he's since corrected it to Hamilton.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 4)

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Marlon Byrd's walk-off grand slam scored big in the ratings, too.

Imagine a time when the Texas Rangers almost were the biggest show in town.

It happened Monday between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m., when Marlon Byrd (depicted above on the Texas Rangers Web site), hit a bottom-of-the-ninth grand slam to lift the Rangers to a 9-5 victory over the New York Yankees.

Those 15 minutes on MY27 drew 214,333 D-FW homes to outpoint everything (during day or night) except the final 15 minutes of a Two and a Half Men repeat on CBS (228,946 homes between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m.). And the elongated game's overall ratings average of 6.2 Nielsen points (151,007 homes) beat all competing prime-time programming except Two and a Half Men and a following Old Christine rerun on CBS.

Those are socko numbers for the Rangers, who usually average well under 100,000 D-FW homes. And they came against two NBC reality competition shows with strong local rooting interests.

NBC's two-hour American Gladiators finale, in which Ally Davidson of Dallas emerged as the champion female contender, averaged a paltry 73,058 homes from 7 to 9 p.m. That made it the No. 4-ranked show during those two hours, with the same result among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

The Peacock's Nashville Star climax, with Arlington's Melissa Lawson singing her way to the top, fared better with a nice-sized 146,136 total homes from 9 to 10 p.m. Still, that put it just third in homes and fourth in the 18-to-49 demo.

ABC's High School Musical: Get In the Picture again was Monday night's lowest scorer among the four major broadcast networks, with just 36,534 lonely homes from 7 to 8 p.m.. It bombed even bigger with 18-to-49-year-olds, who preferred even the first hour of TXA21's local newscast to watching HSM host Nick Lachey flail about.

In the local news derby, CBS11's 10 p.m. edition edged NBC5 in total homes. But the Peacock counter-punched with a win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8, which has been slumping in the early mornings, nipped Fox4 at 6 a.m. for first place in total homes. The two stations shared the gold in the 25-to-54 demo as WFAA8 veteran Brad Hawkins made his debut opposite incumbent Daybreak anchor Cynthia Izaguirre.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. and won at 5 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 ran first at the earlier hour in total homes, winning by a smidgen over both WFAA8 and NBC5, which tied for second.

NBC5's new image campaign: "You're everywhere to me"


NBC5 has a new sales pitch for its newscasts, and the timing obviously is optimum.

Its network's all-encompassing coverage of the Summer Olympics, which begin with Friday night's opening ceremonies from Beijing, China, will bring a wealth of eyeballs to Peacock stations around the country. So NBC5 has ramped up with a hyper-energetic "Anytime Everywhere" campaign underscoring the availability of its news content on phones and computers as well as living room screens.

A hard-driving theme song by a female vocalist -- "You're everywhere to me, and when I close my eyes, it's you I see" -- accompanies fleeting glimpses of NBC5 anchors and reporters in action. Roll call: standardbearers Mike Snyder, Jane McGarry, David Finfrock and Newy Scruggs, plus new meteorologist Jennifer Lopez, anchor/reporters Meredith Land, Brian Curtis and Kristi Nelson and reporters Grand Stinchfield and Scott Gordon.

It's all slickly cosmetic show and tell, of course. But if you take it for what it is, this full-blown, one-minute spot also is pretty effective at getting NBC5's retooled message across. At least that's my perception after multiple viewings. Your comments are welcome.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 1-3)

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In case you didn't notice -- and WFAA8 certainly didn't call attention to it -- Friday ended up as Justin Farmer's last day on Daybreak.

A new day dawned Monday -- but again no on-air signal to viewers -- when WFAA8 veteran Brad Hawkins took the Daybreak reins with incumbent Cynthia Izaguirre.

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, the plan is to give Hawkins the rest of this year to win the job permanently. Meanwhile, Farmer is headed to WSB-TV in Atlanta after what must have been the longest lame duck tenure in the history of D-FW television.

He officially told station management of his decision on Jan. 4th, the same day that Izaguirre made her Daybreak debut. But the station held him to a contract that officially expires on Tuesday, Aug. 5th. As late as last Thursday, it remained unclear as to when Farmer actually would make his final Daybreak appearance. Management eventually decided to begin this week with Hawkins in the saddle and Farmer out of sight, out of mind.

The passing of the baton -- without actually acknowledging it on the air -- comes in less than bright times for Daybreak. Viewing levels are down in the summer, and viewing patterns are skewed by vacations and school closings. Still, Daybreak has been in a ratings snooze during recent weeks after a first-place finish at 6 a.m. in the May sweeps. This has happened despite a heavy billboard, bus and TV campaign for Izaguirre.

Friday's Nielsens had Fox4 on top in both total homes (87,682) and among 25-to-54-year-olds (73,613), the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 ran second in both measurements while WFAA8 managed only a third-place tie in total homes with the usually downtrodden CBS11 (58,454 apiece). WFAA8 also ran third in the 25-to-54 demo (53,001) with CBS11 well back with 26,501.

In the past two weeks, here's how the four stations have fared at 6 a.m. in total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds:

NBC5 -- 67,710
Fox4 -- 64,543
WFAA8 -- 47,981
CBS11 -- 38,239

NBC5 -- 55,062
Fox4 -- 43,873
WFAA8 -- 37,984
CBS11 -- 20,023

Whatever the season, those numbers are a wakeup call, if not a rude awakening for WFAA8. As management keeps saying, the competition to be No. 1 is year-around. At last minus a lame duck anchor, we'll see if those numbers improve.

Also on Friday, WFAA8's 10 p.m. news won in total homes but ran third behind NBC5 and CBS11 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 ran the table at 5 p.m. and ran first in total homes at 6 p.m. NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for the 6 p.m. gold in the 25-to-54 demo.

In the battle of the local Sunday night sports specials, WFAA8's Dale Hansen won the three-way 10:30 p.m. battle in both ratings measurements, with CBS11's Babe Laufenberg second in total homes and NBC5's Newy Scruggs taking the runnerup spot among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4's Mike Doocy had his usual 10 p.m. running start. His sports special had the night's third largest audience in total homes (ahead of Scruggs) and was second-best in the 25-to-54 demo.

Doocy arguably faces stiffer competition in going against non-sports newscasts on rival stations. Then again, it'd be interesting to see how he'd fare in a head-to-head-to-head-to-head battle opposite his sports anchor peers

Buttering up the upper crust: DMN's timing is hardly like a fine Rolex


Peppard (center) on the job at the Dallas Polo Club Soiree Party.

This site generally is devoted to television and its attendant offshoots on the Web and DVDs.

But in light of ongoing events at The Dallas Morning News -- the third semi-annual fall clearance sale of employees -- I'd like to address the almost insane insensitivity of Sunday's featured GuideLive presentation.

Consuming most of the section's front page, it's headlined, "Sun Birds Fly the Coop: Where the city's elite go to cool their beaks in summer."

The writer, Alan Peppard, is the newspaper's longtime chronicler of the activities engaged in by those closest to the heart of Belo chairman of the board and CEO Robert W. Decherd. In other words, Peppard writes reams of copy about the city's filthy rich. It's his job, and it's probably the least endangered one at the newspaper.

Less than a week earlier, Decherd told shareholders that Belo would be cutting "approximately 500 full-time equivalents" (a k a living, breathing human beings) from the corporation's three major newspapers, which also include The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, CA.

A large number of DMN employees will be hitting the bricks before the end of September -- either voluntarily via a "buyout" or involuntarily if not enough people take one. What better time then to write a long tome (with just two people quoted) on the summer migration habits of the silver-spooned super-privileged?

Even worse, Peppard begins by writing, "No doubt you've noticed there's no line to get the oil changed on your Bentley, there's no need to sweet-talk Jean-Pierre to get a billionaire table at Cafe Pacific, and the lights are out at some of the grander estates."

No, as a matter of fact, 99,999 out of every 100,000 North Texans haven't noticed. They don't move in those circles. In a death-spiraling economy, they're scrambling to stay ahead or even keep apace. Their jobs might be in jeopardy, or perhaps their homes are facing foreclosure. They wouldn't know a Bentley from a Kia.

This is nothing personal against Peppard. During my long tenure at the DMN, we weren't close friends but we certainly were friendly. But this particular article (which I tried and failed to find on the newspaper's Web site early Monday morning) is "prima facie evidence" (as Peppard wrote in his second paragraph) that the newspaper is out of touch not only with the struggling city at large but with its own highly vulnerable, financially imperiled work force.

Here's another swift, Gucci-toed kick to stomachs that have never housed a plate of fine Russian caviar: "Even a leased Maserati and a leased Rolex can't erase the shame of not having a summer home in the Hamptons," Peppard writes.

The story has nary a reference to the ongoing economic downturn. There's no sense of irony. It celebrates excess. Cute little Ross Perot, for instance, jets away during Dallas' hot summer months to a "gated enclave" in Bermuda.

The Perot manse is "dramatically situated high on a rock cliff," Peppard writes. "When not entertaining guests such as Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Perot is at his most relaxed in Bermuda, dashing about in his armada of boats and Jet Skis. Four years ago, he had a little too much fun and was ticketed for running his 38-foot boat Rough Rider at 30 knots through a 5-knot zone."

Oh, those wacky rich.

Then there's "Dallas banking billionaire" Gerald "Jerry" Ford, who "brings guests aboard his Gulfstream IV to his beachfront estate in the holiest of holy Hamptons: Southhampton. He and his bride, Kelli, hosted their wedding on the tented tennis court at the home. Architect Peter Pennoyer is responsible for the shingle-style house, which is elegant but comfortable inside."

Well, that's reassuring.

Back in the day -- a few years ago at the DMN -- some editors used to live in fear of managing editor George Rodrigue "spitting up his Cheerios" if he'd been offended by something he read in the paper. This often had to do with printing naughty words -- no matter the context -- such as "bitch" or "crap."

It's hoped that Rodrigue had the good taste to spew his Cheerios after reading this particular affront to his employees and the city's legions of less fortunate. But Peppard knows which side his baguette is buttered on. And Belo's master puppeteer no doubt approves.