Robservations on the media beat:
It’s fiesta time at Univision Chicago where WGBO-Channel 66 scored an historic ratings victory in June. For the first time the Spanish-language station’s 10 p.m. newscast was No. 1 among all viewers between 18 and 49. Simulcast with UniMás sister station WFXT-Channel 60, Noticias Univision Chicago tied ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 with a 1.4 rating in the young adult demo, but narrowly edged out ABC 7 in the late-news audience stats, according to Nielsen. Calling it “incredibly gratifying to reach this milestone,” Doug Levy, senior vice president and general manager of Univision Chicago, said the achievement was “a testament not only to the vibrancy and relevancy of local Spanish-language media, but to the unparalleled relationship we have with our audience and our mission to continue to serve Hispanic America.” Added Teri Arvesu, vice president of content for Univision Chicago: “I see this as not only a win for Univision Chicago, but more importantly, for the community we serve.” The coup for Hispanic media came days after Chicago Tribune Media Group cut back on publication of its Spanish newspaper Hoy.
Last week’s layoff of 120 workers at City Colleges of Chicago included numerous positions at its noncommercial television station WYCC-Channel 20, including supervising producer Shelley Spencer, senior producer Mario Tharpe and coordinator Toni Reed. Nearly half the station’s staff has been eliminated in the past year, with further reductions expected to follow, according to insiders. It’s all leading up to the transfer of its broadcast license, which was sold in the FCC spectrum auction last April for a relatively modest $15.9 million. Sources said the City Colleges failed to maximize the value of its license by not consulting with industry experts before the auction. No word yet on what’s ahead for the operation.
Job cuts last week also hit Crain Communications, including the division headed by veteran Chicago media exec and author Robert K. Elder. He’s leaving after more than two years as executive director of digital product development and innovation. “Crain let me build an amazing product, hire a top-notch team and expand the brand across the continent,” Elder said in a statement. “We created an exciting, enduring new platform, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. I made lasting friendships at Crain companies and at innovation centers nationwide. For all this, I’m very grateful to KC Crain and the company.”
In a must-see takedown of Sinclair Broadcast Group, HBO’s John Oliver took dead aim Sunday at the company that’s about to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media, including WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720. The specter of Sinclair saddling its stations with right-wing “must-run” content in their local newscasts threatens to diminish the credibility and tarnish the brand of “Chicago Very Own.” Despite protests from public interest groups, the $3.9 billion Sinclair deal for Tribune Media remains on track with federal regulators.