The breeze you may have felt along Sixth Avenue Thursday was the massive gasp at the numbers emanating from News Corp headquarters, where the financial report was down, and decidedly so: ”News Corporation had income of $320 million, or 12 cents a share, significantly below the Wall Street expectations. Analysts had forecast earnings of 19 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters,” reported the New York Times.
News Corp titan Rupert Murdoch telling the paper: “Our results for the quarter are a direct reflection of the grim economic climate,” he said. “While we anticipated a weakening, the downturn is more severe and likely longer-lasting than previously thought.”
The next shoe to drop may be in the newsrooms at FOX O&O’s, starting on the Upper East Side in New York. According to the Times, “The company’s local television stations had a 44 percent decline, ‘reflecting a significant overall weakening of the local advertising markets despite increased political advertising revenues,’ the company said in a statement.” That, kids, sounds like the kind of statement that preceeds another round of cost-cutting, and word from New York tonight indicates at least one well-known Fox 5 face has already left the building at WNYW’s E. 67th Street studios.
Developing…we will post details on the latest layoff at WNYW as soon as we can confirm the details. Expect an update here on the site overnight or early Friday morning, though the standard bio scrub has already happened on the Fox 5 website.
Say it ain’t so. Boston stations, beset as the rest of the local news biz has been by plummeting ad sales, have weighed the ROIs on the Sox and decided Spring training’s not in the cards. Jessica Heslam broke the news to Beantown in the Herald this morning: “WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) isn’t sending a sports reporter or anchor to spring training for the first time in the station’s history. WFXT-TV (Ch. 25) may not send anyone to cover spring training either. Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next week.”
It’s a unique yet unsurprising indicator of how far budgets have fallen in local tv news departments big and small. What once would have been unthinkable (get rid of the chopper? Are you nuts?) is now–nearly–a given. “Obviously in this climate we’re watching every dime and how it’s spent but we don’t want to sacrifice coverage, so it’s a delicate dance,” said NECN spokeswoman Doreen Vigue, who says the cable news op will have a “presence” at Spring training, but hasn’t decided yet whether it will be a staffer, a freelancer, or something else entirely. (Anyone predicting a Skype liveshot?)
Spring training–for baseball obsessed markets like Boston–has traditionally been one of those area where local sports departments show their stuff. Richard Huff in the NY Daily News recently argued that sports is DOA in local news. This may be another proverbial nail in that coffin.
Thoughts, Beantowners? Snarky comments, Yankees fans? (Though it should be noted that NYC stations have been cutting the life out of their sports staffs in recent weeks)