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URL 16: Bill Hernstadt’s Juicy Tidbits—Including Channel 3’s Infamous Black Dot

URL 16: Bill Hernstadt’s Juicy Tidbits—Including Channel 3’s Infamous Black Dot (In Chapter 22, page 116) (771 words) (9,582 cum words)

Bill sent me a few juicy tidbits of his own. He sent me copies of the letters of complaint he had sent to the FCC, one written October 19, 1971, and the other written January 31, 1972. Here are parts of what he said in the two letters:

…the Review-Journal (owned by Channel 3) established a policy of rotating among the five TV stations in the Las Vegas market…the front cover of the Sunday TV Entertainment section. However, in the past year, Channel 5 has not received a single cover placement, and more covers promoting Channel 3’s programs are placed on the Sunday TV section than all other stations combined. In addition, Channel 3 received substantial placement on the daily TV pages in the quantity of publicity printed in the Review-Journal and in prominence of locations….For several years, the Review-Journal also had a black dot on their TV listings adjacent to all Channel 3’s programming and a white dot for all other stations in the market. The former manager of (Channel 5) attempted to “buy” this black dot, but was told it was not for sale to any other TV station in the market. Under threat of complaint by myself about the gross unfairness of this practice, the Review-Journal waited until July 30, one day before the closing date for filing an objection for license renewal of Channel 3, to eliminate it. In fairness to Channel 3, I called this matter to their attention this past week to see whether this was an executive decision or an “accident” of some lower-level employee….We found out very quickly that it was a high-level administrative decision. Their attorney stated that we had “shitty programming,” and that because we had only a five percent rating in the local market, we were entitled to only five percent exposure in their newspaper.

Of course, we haven’t even received our five percent in the Sunday TV supplement dated October 17…We had submitted pictures and a story for each day of the week, yet we did not receive even a mention. The Review-Journal has consistently boycotted using material from Channel 5….Channel 3’s position that the amount of publicity should be determined by their ratings which approximate 50 percent of the market is a self-perpetuating specious concept. Channel 3’s ratings have been a much higher percentage of market penetration than other NBC network affiliates in similarly-situated markets. This has been in no small measure due to aggressive use of the Review-Journal’s publicity to hype ratings and exclude other stations at crucial times during the rating period. The Review-Journal is to this market what the New York Times is to the New York market, and with their prestige have been able to make it work.

One of our former employees who used to work in the production department for Channel 3 told me he was required to erase part of a tape which one of our personalities (The Vegas Vampire) sneaks up behind Forrest Duke, a Channel 3 regular. This employee was told that the reason for erasing the tape was because no Donrey company (including the Review-Journal, Channel 3, and Donrey Outdoor Advertising, all in Las Vegas) was to promote or even admit the existence of a competing station….

At a meeting recently, Bob Ordonez, General Manager of KORK-TV, before a room-full of witnesses, made some unusual statements about the fact that their license renewal had been contested.

The community of Pahrump, Nevada, which has about 2,000 people in the adjoining valley which is cut off from the Las Vegas Valley by a mountain range, receives signals from Channels 3 and 8 by means of a translator antenna located at one of the few accessible locations at the top of the mountain range.

The city fathers of Pahrump want modernized equipment. They want to receive our signal as well as that of Channel 13 and are willing to buy the necessary translating gear to have reliable transmission of Channels 3, 5, 8, and 13. It was at this point that Bob Ordonez made the statement that KORK-TV would not permit the signals of either Channel 5 or Channel 13 to be repeated as long as they were involved through the use of KORK’s real estate, although he might consider allowing Channel 13 to be translated, since it was the ABC network affiliate.

It appears that leopards do not change their spots, and despite KORK-TV’s recent attempts to look good for the upcoming hearing, it seems that Mr. Ordonez, when it comes to back-room meetings, is not only willing and able to, but wants to put the knife in our backs.

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