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Media Watch

KWBA Sold To KGUN Parent Company

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Journal Communications has agreed to buy KWBA--the CW affiliate licensed out of Sierra Vista, but serving Tucson on Channel 58 (cable Channel 8)--from the Cascade Broadcasting Group.

The move, which needs to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission, gives Journal another product within its expanding Tucson media umbrella, which includes KGUN Channel 9 and four radio stations.

"The acquisition of KWBA is directly on strategy for Journal as we seek to build out cross-platform businesses in growth markets such as Tucson," said Doug Kiel, Journal's vice chairman and CEO, in a press release. "With two television stations and four radio stations in this market, we can increase our hyper-local presence in Tucson."

It seems likely that Journal will attempt to use KWBA as an additional news outlet to promote its KGUN product--much in the way FM talk-radio station KQTH FM 104.1 does. There's also a possibility that Journal could attempt a 9 p.m. newscast on KWBA. If that happens, it would be the second such effort at KWBA.

Current KOLD primetime news anchor Heather Rowe was behind the desk during KWBA's first 9 p.m. news endeavor, a partnership with KOLD that the station scrapped after a couple of years.

"We reached a point where we couldn't grow (KWBA's local presence)," said Cascade CEO Carol LaFever. "Losing the (Arizona) Diamondbacks contract (after the team signed an exclusive contract with FSN Arizona) hurt us. That, combined with friction with our news-producing partner in Tucson ... really put us in a situation where we couldn't grow it very much. I hate to see it go. I have a fondness for that station."

KWBA already operates with a limited staff, and only time will tell what the changeover means for those still getting paychecks through Cascade. It seems almost certain that general manager Andrew Stewart will have to find other work. Stewart succeeded Ray Depa as the GM at KGUN, but left that position less than a year later and helped broker the KWBA deal for Cascade. However, he says he did not make the move on behalf of Journal, and he suspects a second stint with the Milwaukee-based company is not in the cards.

"Journal doesn't tend to rehire those in management who have left," Stewart said.


MEDIA CLASH WITH HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS BODY

Representatives of state media outlets scheduled a Thursday, March 27, meeting with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) to discuss their displeasure with AIA's new policy limiting the sale of photographs and videos.

Teri Hayt, the Arizona Daily Star managing editor who serves as the legislative committee chairman of the Arizona Newspaper Association (ANA), refused to discuss the issue on the record with the Tucson Weekly--even though the Weekly is an ANA member--but said in a correspondence to Arizona editors and publishers: "The Arizona Interscholastic Association is denying us the right to resell any photography and video gathered during the state high school tournament and championship games."

The AIA says it is dealing with student safety regarding the types of photographs that have been taken--some distasteful--at high school sporting events. It is also facing the same credentialing dilemma that plagues professional and collegiate organizations, including the UA: the reality of Web sites and their role in the media landscape.

"I get 100 to 200 requests a year from Web sites focused around ... high schools. We had to create a filter," said Chuck Schmidt, the AIA's chief operations officer. "Our focus was to secure and maintain that the legitimate media--newspapers, radio stations that have been covering high school sports throughout the years, television stations--would have room and access to the stories. We had to make a decision to create a credential to determine access for who could come and who can't, and that was determined through our board, and it was for legitimate media.

"Some of these Web sites and entities are selling what we consider AIA property. From a dollars-and-cents perspective, we create revenue to lessen the burden for member schools. The current media-credentialing policy in question is in no way a revenue generator for the AIA.

"Within the past 60 days, it came to our attention that (members of the media) had a concern about our credentialing policy, that we were not allowing them to distribute or sell their content. I've responded on several occasions that if they want to post pictures on their Web sites and give them out for free, we do not have any problem with that."

Hayt's correspondence claims that media organizations' concerns are not financial.

"The issue is not about the money we make off resale of photographs, but rather that AIA is seeking to control photo usage through the credentialing process. The language is broad and open to its interpretation of how we repurpose content. Under this policy, the AIA would determine if we could publish a commemorative or special section, not us.

"This policy does not serve our readers, student athletes or their parents who would be denied copies of images that memorialize their accomplishments by the very agency set up to serve the athletes, their parents, coaches and schools.

"It is time to make our local school officials, school board members, coaches, parents, city and county elected officials and anyone who supports AIA with taxpayer funds aware the AIA policy will result in the elimination of photographs of our student athletes in our newspapers."

Responded Schmidt: "What's very disheartening is they've used the inkwell to create editorials and advance their position--that just isn't fair. It's not about the press. It's about a money-making business, and we're trying to secure revenue.

"Nobody's saying we're not giving them access. We're allowing them to post for free, and we're not asking for a licensing fee to do that. Whatever these legitimate media want, we've provided, but look: If you're going to sell (photos or videos), you're going to have to ask us for permission, and then let's talk it through.

"We'll work with (anybody) to try to get this resolved. Our goal is not to pick a fight, but please respect what we're saying. You wouldn't be doing this to Major League Baseball. You wouldn't be doing this to the PGA. Why are you doing this to us?"

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