Now that we've finally got an actual date for the local network affiliation switch, the other half of the equation is about to roll out its own promotional campaign.
The switch of CBS programming to KUTV-Ch. 2 and NBC programming to KSL-Ch. 5 is set for 1 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10.Ch. 5 has been flooding the airwaves for the past couple of weeks with spots that hype its coming marriage to NBC. Meanwhile, the folks at KUTV-Ch. 2 have been quiet - leading some to question whether they were even ready for the impending switch.
"We have our campaign in the can," said Jeff Davis, KUTV's marketing director. "I didn't want to put anything on until we have a date. Without a date, it's like a news story without the facts."
But those spots will begin airing today.
At KSL, they felt they had no choice but to go ahead with the campaign, banking that the deal would go through sooner rather than later. And while there's merit to their approach, calls received by both stations - not to mention your local television editor - indicate that the promotional spots have caused at least some confusion among viewers over when the switch would come.
And don't forget, KSL has been running "Tonight Show" ads since the beginning of July. (See next item.)
Davis vowed that Ch. 2's campaign won't be a mirror image of Ch. 5's.
"I think our spots are slick looking, but they're different from KSL's," he said. "They're really pumping up the NBC programs. We're trying to let viewers know where they can find all the programs."
In one spot, anchorwoman Michelle King tells viewers that Ch. 2 will be carrying CBS shows and Ch. 5 will be carrying NBC programming. KSL's campaign contains no mention of its competitor.
All of Ch. 2's switch spots include their toll-free information line - 1-800-MORETWO. (Ch. 5 also has a 1-800 line prepared, but its spots have yet to identify that number.)
Like Ch. 5, Ch. 2 will use its on-air news personalities in the advertisements. But KUTV's cam-paign is built around King, with others backing her up.
Like KSL, KUTV's advertisements will include appearances by network stars. There are even some locally inspired segments that feature David Letterman - a first for Utah.
(When KSL agreed to move Letterman's show up to 10:35 p.m. in the summer of 1994, they were promised some local spots with the "Late Show" host - a promise CBS never delivered on.)
And Davis said viewers should see a difference between Ch. 2's campaign and the one at Ch. 5 - more information, less promotion of the incoming network's shows. He said the goal of KUTV's campaign is to "help, not hype."
"The viewer loses on this whole thing," Davis said. "We designed our spots so that they'll be very helpful to the viewer, hopefully."
CHECK THE TV GUIDE? As to those Leno spots that KSL has been running since the beginning of July, you don't always get the rest of the story when you call Ch. 5 and ask.
One local viewer, having been watching the advertisements for some weeks, called Ch. 5 and asked when they would begin airing "The Tonight Show."
"August 28," was the reply. (That was a targeted switch date that fell through while waiting for FCC approval.)
The viewer went on to ask where he could watch Jay Leno in the meantime.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to check the TV Guide," was the response.
JUST PLAIN STUPID: An item in the Aug. 14-20 edition of Weekly Variety is worth mentioning, simply because of how far off the mark it is.
Headlined "NBC's Salt Lake City Blues," the blurb appears in J. Max Robins' Wired column.
"NBC brass may be uncorking the champagne over their successful $1.27 billion bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. . . . Unfortunately, the Peacock web's Salt Lake City affiliate KSL - owned by Bonneville Intl. - is allied with the Mormons, and doesn't accept beer and wine advertising. Folks inside (NBC headquarters) foresee headaches from that key group of Olympic advertisers come 2002. Wired hears that NBC, which did own KUTV in the market until it did a station swap with CBS last year, may make a bid for KSL and end prohibition by the Winter Games."
We could pass over some relatively minor errors. Like writing that KSL is "allied" with the Mormons - a rather odd way to describe owned by the LDS Church. Or writing that NBC owned KUTV until last year. (The transfer to Westinghouse/CBS is ongoing.)
But the entire basis for this item is just plain false.
While it is true that KSL does not accept any local alcohol advertising, the station does not block network advertising of beer and wine. It doesn't do so as a CBS affiliate and it won't do so as an NBC affiliate.
And what possible effect could having its Salt Lake affiliate operate under such a policy have on NBC and the 2002 Games?
None. Absolutely none.
For that matter, even if KSL did block national alcohol advertising, the effect on NBC and the 2002 Games would be negligible.
(If anyone at NBC actually did express concern, then they're as dumb as this item in Variety.)
As to the rumors that NBC is interested in buying KSL - well, the Peacock boys can join the club. The folks at Bonneville receive inquiries of that sort constantly. (And rumors about NBC's interest have floated for months.)
Currently, the station is not for sale, according to Bonneville. Not to NBC or anybody else.
As to the sheer stupidity of this item, it's something we'll have to get used to. We're going to see any number of similar misinterpretations involving Utah and Utahns in the media in the coming years.