The Media Notepad: Fox 32 gets Amazon Thursday night Bears game – report (updated)

Also: local Atlanta station removes popular syndicated show to air more news; controversial political ad removed from local airwaves; the GOP looking to deregulate the media business even more; Ramsey Lewis dies

[Editor’s Note: There is an update to the second story in this piece. See below.]

Thursday Night Football may have left Fox, but its owned stations certainly haven’t left Thursday Night Football.

A Twitter account posted a list of the broadcast television stations airing the Thursday Night Football game in their home and away markets this season as it moves to Amazon and shows a ton of Fox-owned stations airing the games.

As part of its deal to stream Thursday Night Football games, Amazon had to make them available to local stations for each team playing in the game that week. It appears the Fox-owned stations made a fifteen-station deal, meaning October 5’s TNF matchup between the Bears and the Washington Commanders would be seen on Fox 32 (WFLD) and WTTG. This is notable given Fox was the home to TNF for the last four years, with games streamed on Amazon Prime. The Fox deal covers most teams in the NFC in the cities where Fox owns stations and has rights to the NFC package.

Deals were also struck with Scripps, Cox, and Hearst’s WDSU-TV New Orleans for the Saints game, according to the graphic.

The original tweet was deleted; you can read the list of stations on T Dog Media’s Slideshare page. Fox, Amazon, and the NFL have yet to comment, but a quick check on Zap2It TV listings did showed the Chargers-Chiefs game airing Thursday on Fox-owned KTTV Los Angeles and Scripps’ KSHB Kansas City respectively, and the September 22 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns is airing in those markets on Cox’s WPXI and Scripps’ WEWS, respectively so the list should check out. 

On the call for TNF is Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit. While games are exclusive to Amazon outside of home markets, the company has partnered with DirecTV to air TNF games for business establishments, such as bars and restaurants. 5

The latest ad from Dan Proft’s People Who Play By The Rules PAC was pulled from local TV stations this week. According to a tweet sent Tuesday from Sun-Times political correspondent Tina Sfondeles, NBC-owned WMAQ (NBC 5) was the first to yank an ad featuring a Lakeview woman who was violently attacked by criminals and was caught by a doorbell camera. A station spokesperson said “A number of NBC 5 viewers complained about the advertisement, and the station has now pulled the ad from its airwaves.” Among those criticizing the ad was a women’s advocacy group. Most other local stations have followed. 

On behalf of gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, the commercial has been running for the last few days on numerous Chicago TV stations, but received more attention as it ran during Sunday’s 49ers-Bears game on Fox 32. This comes on the heels of Proft’s previous controversial ad, which used violent images and darkened Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s skin. The Lakeview ad also aired before the Emmy Awards Monday night on NBC 5.

Proft blasted local stations for their decision to pull the ad, as reported by Capitol Fax: “All the network affiliates approved the ad. Then came the push back from the targets the ‘news’ stations serve, Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot, and other enthusiasts of lawlessness and unchecked violence and down came my ad. It began with [WMAQ] and, since all these network affiliate executives share a brain, the rest of the stations, with one notable exception, followed.” Proft did not identify the “exception”. 

A lawyer representing the victim in the ad told Capitol Fax Friday:  “I represent the victim in the Scream Ad that Dan Proft has been running and I just wanted to note that the victim was never asked or consulted by them regarding the use of that video. Not that she would have agreed to allow it, but at least she should have been given a heads up that it was coming out. She wishes to remain anonymous and heal from this whole ordeal and the Scream ad isn’t helping.”

Keep in mind even though local stations can’t pull election commercials coming directly from campaigns, they can reject PAC ads if they are too controversial. 

The ad was yanked after a crime blog filed a cease-and desist (to Proft) after using footage without permission.

Proft’s first commercial had at least five seconds of footage prominently featuring CWBChicago’s logo. The ad seemed to be taken down, but has resumed airing on one local station Saturday, so I don’t know what’s going on here. CWBChicago has the problem with the second ad, but not the first where their logo is prominently displayed? Something is fishy here. 

The observation here is while airing an ad like this during local news is one thing, the ad airing during a football game when children may be watching – and worse, without notifying the victim in the video is just absolutely disgusting, but as we all know Proft is without shame and is a total ghoul, employing “shock jock” tactics that would even make Mancow Muller look like Mister Rogers. And last I checked, the local stations have broadcast licenses to serve the public, not GOP operatives. As I said, this is the downside of broadcasters relying so much on political advertising revenue and shit like this explains why viewers are abandoning linear TV in droves, and these greedy local broadcasters deserve to get the scrutiny they deserve for airing these two ads. Leave it to Proft to make this writer sound like a Parents Television Council member – a group I’ve despised over the years, but here we are. 

And speaking of greedy broadcasters…in a blatant move to grab more political cash, Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV is temporarily moving Tamron Hall’s syndicated talk show from 3 p.m. to 1:36 a.m. until at least December. In its place is a new 3 p.m. newscast, which launched last Monday (Sept. 12). Owned by Cox, WSB-TV has long been Atlanta’s ratings leader.

Addressing the audience who were expecting Hall, anchor Linda Stouffer said the move is until the mid-term elections are over, which could be in November or December.

This comes as Georgia races are heating up for Governor and for the Senate – the latter could help determine if Democrats or Republicans take control of the chamber next year. In the Governor’s race, you have Republican incumbent Brian Kemp facing off against Democrat Stacy Abrams and for Senate, you have Dem incumbent Raphael Warnock going toe-to-toe with Repub challenger and Heisman winner Herschel Walker, who played on the University of Georgia’s 1980 National Championship team. There are also other candidates in both race.

The tricky part of this is, if no candidate gets above 50 percent of the vote in the Senate race, then there would be a runoff election taking place December 6. Polls for the top Democrat and Republican candidates in both races are close.

Political advertisers prefer news programming over entertainment shows like Hall’s, and don’t be surprised to see more moves like this as get closer to the elections in swing states such as Georgia. While viewers are understandably pissed at the move, keep in mind this is more about local stations grabbing political revenue than any actual demand for local news – not to mention WSB’s parent company Cox was acquired by a hedge fund (Apollo Global Management) and is in debt. They’re doing this under the guise of “expanded local election coverage”. As if.

Rand Paul.

In what can be described as a bailout for the ailing broadcasting (TV and radio) industry, Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced a bill to completely deregulate the business.

Coined the The Local News and Broadcast Media Preservation Act, the bill would eliminate ownership caps on television (now at 39 percent) and radio, in order to better compete with tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. This means a broadcaster could buy up all the local stations – TV and radio – in a given market, an impact that would be greatly felt in medium-sized and smaller cities.

The bill would also strip a Democrat-controlled FCC of the power to reinstate the cross-ownership rules, with were eliminated in 2017 under when the FCC was controlled by Republicans, who axed them in a 3-2 partisan vote and were upheld by the Supreme Court in a 9-0 vote.

The NAB is already backing the bill stating the organization “is supportive of modernizing outdated broadcast ownership rules to better enable local TV and radio stations to compete fairly in the 21st century media landscape.” Legislation would also give local stations an antitrust exemption in collectively negotiating with tech giants for their use of their “valuable” local news content (you know, like crime.)

The industry has been asking Congress to deregulate the business for decades, dating back to the implantation of financial-interest and syndication rules in 1970. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did just that, eliminating much of the regulation, which allowed companies to merge with one another while the media industry lost more than 10,000 jobs and led to the rise of mega cost-cutting conglomerates such as Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia), Nexstar, and Sinclair. These media companies have been much more friendlier to Republicans in hopes of advancing their deregulation agenda, especially Sinclair and Nexstar. Now they want more, which should be an alarm to viewers and advertisers.

This bill would mean more consolidations and likely more job losses as the linear TV networks are losing viewers to streaming and terrestrial radio loses listeners to Sirius/XM, Internet radio, music streamers, and podcasting. But the chances of legislation passing before the midterms are slim-to-none, given Democrats, who oppose media consolidation, control the House and Senate. However, if Republicans win control of both houses in November, all bets are off. Even if President Joe Biden vetoes the bill, it would still be overridden in Congress and whether if it does depends on how many seats the GOP can win.

Further reading:

One of the most talented jazz artists to ever come from our city – Ramsey Lewis, died this week at 87. Lewis was world-renown for his work with hits The In Crowd, Hang On Sloopy, and a lot more. He also hosted mornings at the former WNUA-FM and the Legends Of Jazz show at PBS’ WTTW here in Chicago. (Sun-Times)

Also passing at 87 this week was former Clear Channel executive Lowry Mays. (Variety)

Emmys score record low ratings – again – but a big night for Black Talent as Sheryl Lee Ralph, Quinta Brunson win Awards: (Variety)

Jennifer Hudson, Sherri Shepherd off to good ratings start with new talk shows Sept. 12 (NextTV)

49ers-Bears splish-splash game earns 22.6 household ratings on Sept. 11 (Jeff Agrest/Sun-Times)



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