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URL 13: My Letter to Dean Burch Dated June 1, 1971

URL 13: My Letter to Dean Burch Dated June 1, 1971 (In Chapter 19, page 95) (1,162 words) (6,506 cum words)

June 1, 1971

Dear Mr. Burch:

Although I still have not heard from you or from any other members of the FCC in response to my letter to you dated April 2, 1971, I have heard from Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Representative O. C. Fisher that you are investigating my complaint. I would appreciate your reporting any progress to me, also, since I am the complaintant.

I have a more serious complaint this time. Since I originally did the study, concerning attitudes of viewers toward TV commercials in the Las Vegas metro area, a copy of the log of one of the three network stations has come into my possession. In the log for one particular day, I found ten items regarding “Cover Network Position,” which leads me to believe that this particular station has been double-billing in the past. I do not think it is possible that not one of these 10 network commercials which this station covered that particular day were not supposed to be seen in the Las Vegas market. The only alternative, it would seem to a reasonable person, is double-billing.

While I am not accusing the stations of double-billing practices—yet—I wanted to call this information to your attention. Has the FCC asked the three network stations here in town if they have been “stealing time”? Have you demanded to see the station logs and look into the matter yourself? You should be receiving some station logs, unless I am wrong, since it is my understanding that you request a few logs from stations whose licenses are up for renewal, and I understand that renewal time for Vegas stations is July 1-October 1. If I am wrong about this, then I would suggest that the FCC demand to see the station logs and discover for yourself whether or not the stations are indeed engaged (or were engaged) in double-billing practices. I would strongly suggest that you examine the station logs for the time periods of just before the November election in 1970, and the first three weeks of December of 1970, since it was obvious even to me that far too many local politicians and local advertisers appeared to be sponsoring, Laugh-in (Channel 3), Hawaii Five-O (Channel 8), and Marcus Welby (Channel 13) during these time periods. (If you will remember, my original study complained about too many political spots—or, rather, I reported viewers’ complaints about this matter.) I would also suggest that you examine the logs for all three network stations.

Parenthetically, I would like to add some comments concerning the present actions of the three network stations:

Channel 8: I think that KLAS-TV has markedly improved its programming practices. I am even seeing some of the CBS station break ID-plugs for other CBS shows, with voice-over the CBS eye, which I have not seen for years, even in other markets. I don’t know if Channel 8 will continue their present good practices, since it’s too early to spot a long-term trend, but I have noticed a great improvement over the last two weeks or so. I applaud Channel 8 and its general manager, Mark Smith, for its noticeable improvement.

Channel 13: I cannot really tell about KSHO-TV, since so few of its shows are on live feed from the network origination point—Los Angeles. They tape everything three hours earlier from the East Coast and replay it on their tape machines three hours later. They still have extra spots inserted between network tapes—and the clutter here is sometimes too much in my opinion—but at least they do not cut into the entertainment portions of the shows. The shows have a tendency to begin a little after their scheduled times, just like in Hawaii, but I don’t personally feel irritated by this. I don’t know if any of the other viewers are irritated by the clutter, but this is a qualitative factor, one which I do not intend to study anytime soon. Channel 13 has not had any “live-from-the-east-coast-sporting-events” lately, so I don’t know if they are still cutting into sporting events as they did so often during the college football season. However, their general manager, Fred Vance, told me he had made it a policy of the station to stop that practice. He said that only once during the National Basketball Association playoffs did they cut into the “live” portion, but that was during a half-time interview, and that was by mistake. I personally did not see any of the playoff games.

Channel 3: The only one of the three network stations that has not done one single thing, in my opinion, to improve its programming practices is KORK-TV, the NBC affiliate. In fact, they have consistently continued to cut into entertainment portions of network shows—every network show that I have seen during the month of May. Again, I am not accusing this station of double-billing—yet—, but I hope you will investigate them quite thoroughly. On Monday May 3, somebody from Channel 3 called the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Dr. Donald Baepler, and told him I was trying to organize a boycott of advertisers against Channel 3, which is an out-and-out lie! Dr. Baepler investigated the matter and found me blameless. Then on Thursday, May 27, a Mr. Dan Kelley from Channel 3 contacted Mark Hughes, the University’s Director of Information and Publications, to complain about my efforts to improve programming practices by these three network stations. Mr. Kelly mentioned what a good friend of the University’s that Channel 3 had been up until I came along, having donated many dollars’ worth of cable TV equipment to the University, etc. The implication was plain—that if I didn’t stop trying to improve programming practices that Channel 3 would no longer be a good friend of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I honestly believe that Channel 3 is putting pressure on the University to get me fired from my job. I may be mistaken; however, the signs lead to that conclusion. What I am positive about is this—Channel 3 is currently the worst offender in regards to bad programming practices of the three network stations in Las Vegas, and if any license should be revoked, it should be Channel 3’s. Not only have they continued what I feel are unethical practices, they have also stooped so low as to downgrade me in the eyes of my employer, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Again, many thanks for your concern. I hope that I hear from you soon. Very truly yours, Donald W. Hendon, Assistant Professor, with copy to Senator Frank Moss of Utah

PS: Although this may sound melodramatic, I have given my lawyer possession of the log. In the event that anything happens to me (murder, for example), my lawyer has instructions to release the log automatically to members of the press and interested members of Congress, among others.

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