Friday, March 18, 2011

When more means less

With much fanfare KSBW TV in Salinas is rolling out its newest product line. In addition to their regular NBC programming on channel 8 (Comcast cable channel 6) they will soon be adding ABC programming on digital channel 8.2 beginning April 18th. Channel 8.2, which KSBW used until recently to provide round-the-clock weather reports, will move from cable channel 186 to channel 7.

Until now ABC programming has come to the Monterey Peninsula on cable channel 7 from KGO TV channel 7 in San Francisco. In addition to the ABC programs, we have been able to enjoy excellent San Francisco Bay Area news reporting and original content like 7 Live in the afternoons, things that KSBW is not equipped to provide. 

KSBW has been spinning this change as a great opportunity for Monterey County. For the first time since San Jose lost its ABC affiliate, ABC programs will now be available over the air locally. That's great for the relatively few people who still use rabbit ears. For most of us who use cable or satellite, it is a clear loss.

KSBW has nothing to compare with KGO's excellent bay area and state capitol news reporting, 7 On Your Side consumer advocacy, or the aforementioned 7 Live, which covers everything from the tech industry to entertainment to consumer news in a friendly afternoon talk-show format.

In place of 7 Live we get a game show. In place of KGO News we'll simply get a duplication of Dan and Erin on two channels instead of one. There's nothing wrong, mind you, with Dan and Erin. They're part of the best news team in Monterey County. But we don't need them cloned.

In an e-mail to me today, KSBW President and General Manager Joseph Heston spun my concerns thusly: "In each TV market, there's one network affilate for each network (LA, NYC, SF, Chicago, etc).  The local affiliate for ABC here will now be Central Coast ABC on channel 8.2 (channel 7 on Comcast and satellite).  The "plus" is that if you were watching Dancing with the Stars on KGO and a local fire, tsunami, or tornedo [sic](like today) happened down here, you'd never know; now you will, since KSBW Action News 8 will provide news for the new station.  Best regards and thanks for writing. Joe Heston, President."

Such spin may sound good to Joe, but his obvious lack of consideration for my point of view is disappointing to say the least. So in these next few weeks whenever you hear KSBW boasting that we're getting more, remember that by taking away a bay area news source they're really giving us less.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Angry 4 ARTS

There was an article in Friday's Monterey Herald about groups promoting special California license plates that help fund the arts. In exchange for a higher vehicle license fee you get plates with a pretty picture and a good feeling knowing you're supporting something worthwhile.

The story reminded me of something that happened back in the mid 1990s when these plates were first introduced. I was working as the assistant manager at the Crossroads Cinemas in Carmel. We had a small display promoting the arts plates on a counter in the lobby. It held brochures that enabled people to order the new plates from the DMV. The front of the brochure had a picture of a sample plate with "4 ARTS" as the plate number.

Seeing this, a woman brought the brochure to me and asked if she could get license plates that had "4 ARTS" on them. I explained that every plate had to have a unique combination of numbers and letters, so probably not.

Well, she threw a fit and accused us of false advertising. Mind you, we were just providing display space, and our company was not directly marketing the plates. She didn't care, in her eyes we were accomplices. She insisted that we remove the display immediately because the DMV shouldn't put a sample plate on the brochure cover if that specific plate wasn't available to her. It was misleading, deceptive, and probably illegal. No amount of reasoning - I said they had to put something on there as an example - could placate her. She was on a crusade, and I was as stubborm corporate mule who couldn't see what a fraud this was.

She finally gave up on me, convinced I was a lost cause. But the license plates are not. If you support the arts, they certainly need your help these days. If you can afford the special plates, get a pair for your car today.