‘Turn Off Channel 5’ campaign update
In the face of an unrelenting effort by KSDK-TV Channel 5 to outsource union jobs at will with no regard to the professionalism or loyalty of long-time union members of IBEW Local 4 working for the station, the union is increasing its public outreach to let viewers know how badly the station is treating its veteran employees.
IBEW Local 4 Business Manager Mike Pendergast says the union has a $100,000 war chest to take its message to the public through a variety of outlets.
• A flying billboard greeted Cardinal fans on opening day urging fans to go to the union’s special website, www.turnoffksdk.com to learn details of the station’s callous efforts.
• A television commercial is running during the critical April 24-May 21 television “sweeps” rating period during which Nielson Media Research determines audience sizes for stations throughout the U.S. That data is used to determine advertising costs which relates directly to audience size.
• An additional billboard buy will keep the billboard up on Highway 40 at Jefferson Ave. for at least four months.
Channel 5 is owned by the highly profitable Gannett Company, which is headquartered in Virginia, a right-to-work state.
The company held a meeting with Local 4’s negotiating committee March 28 to outline the company’s “vision” for Channel 5: No work assignments specific to any group.
Translation: The work of the photographers and engineers of Local 4 can be outsourced at any time.
Gannett wants to bust the union’s contract and let anyone, including outside vendors, be assigned the union’s work. Local 4 members are broadcast television engineers — technicians, photographers, editors and broadcast maintenance engineers. When you see TV news cameras on the street covering a story, the person behind the camera is a Local 4 member.
Gannett’s vision, said Pendergast, is that Channels 2 and 4 are no longer their competition. Instead it is Google and YouTube.
“When stations are losing viewers, they always look for a scapegoat. Seems that Channel 5 has found one,” Pendergast said.
And according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Entertainment Editor Gail Pennington last month, he’s right. In the February 2014 sweeps, Channel 5 was no longer St. Louis’ top news station:
• 5 p.m. – Fox Channel 2 was #1.
• 10 p.m. –KMOV Channel 4 was #1
• 6 p.m. – KSDK Channel 5 was # 1
In fact, according to Pennington, in the November 2013 sweeps at 5 p.m., KMOV Channel 4 was #1, up 75 percent over the previous year, followed by Channel 2 and then Channel 5 in terms of audience share.
“Tragically, the quality of journalism at Channel 5 has deteriorated. Except for a few veterans, they have become a revolving door for young journalists seeking to move up in the TV news business. Channel 5 is more of a training ground for the nation,” Pendergast said.
Union members are urged to TURN OFF CHANNEL 5 until the station comes to its senses and stops this effort to break the union and discard veteran journalists represented by IBEW Local 4.
Channel 5’s IBEW members have taken cuts to help the station
Keenly aware that KSDK Channel 5 has lost market share of viewers, IBEW Local 4 has worked with the station to help it regain its financial footing. That has included:
• A 10 percent pay cut in 2009.
• A pay freeze in 2011.
“We’ve been willing to talk about compromises on issues, but the station has flatly refused,” Local 4 Business manger Mike Pendergast said. “To them, ‘It’s their way or the highway.’”
Please TURN OFF Channel 5 until Gannett comes to its senses, and Local 4 is able to resolve this dispute.