Dumberer and Dumberer

Posted by Scott - September 22, 2005 (entry 361)

Chicago public TV station WTTW's latest super-sized "whoopsie" can be found in Robert Feder's 9/21/05 Chicago Sun-Times column which is excerpted here:

"Under terms of a three-year 'exclusive broadcast partnership,' Channel 11 will air all home games of the (Women's National Basketball Association team) Chicago Sky, starting in May. Several commercial broadcasters with experience in sports production earlier had talks with the team about a deal. A spokeswoman for the station said Channel 11 would not be paid a fee to produce and broadcast the games. Instead, all revenue would come from underwriting (public TV-speak for advertising), split between the franchise and the station."

Though a broken clock is correct two - or in WTTW's case somehow sometimes even three times a day, we now must ask: what's next - pro wrestling? With this WNBA deal, WTTW appears to have signed itself into its most profoundly lame financial - and perhaps regulatory - hole yet. Unless Channel 11 can negotiate itself out of the contract, this may well prove to be station President and CEO Dan Schmidt's dumbererest deal to date. And that's saying a lot.

Systemically, public broadcasting is a woefully under-funded and exclusionist failure. But many of WTTW's worst "dots" lead inexorably back to Dan Schmidt and the station's elite Trustees. The departures of top executives Randy King and Mike Liederman earlier this year (and soon maybe Bob Sirott too) are not enough. Schmidt must also go. But not by resignation, like FEMA director Mike Brown. And after fifty years of Trustee self-election, the station must be fully and democratically restructured.

It's about time, isn't it?

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