Friday, October 30, 2009

BBC to Cut Pay, Jobs

The Wall Street Journal LONDON - Under pressure over its pay practices, British Broadcasting Corp. plans to cut the salaries of top managers and axe more than 100 senior posts as part of a broader overhaul to cut costs.

The BBC, which is funded by a license fee paid by the public, plans to cut the amount it spends on the salaries of its top bosses by about 25%, according to the BBC Trust.

The BBC Trust oversees the use of the license fee and had asked management to cut salaries as part of a review into ways to save money. The BBC currently spends about £79 million ($129.4 million) on pay for its 634 senior managers and nine most senior executives.

The BBC also expects to abolish 18% of senior management posts in that time. And, the current pay freeze and bonus suspension for top management will also be extended.

The moves come as the BBC is facing tough questions about its funding and spending practices. The BBC -- known around the world for its journalism, quirky comedies and period dramas -- is a media behemoth in its own market. About two-thirds of all shows made by U.K. television networks are BBC productions, while 56% of all U.K. radio shows are made by the BBC and the most-read news Web site in the U.K. is, according to government figures.

The BBC receives £3.4 billion annually from a £142.50 tax -- known as the TV license fee -- on everyone who owns a TV in the U.K. Commercial rivals complain that gives the BBC an unfair advantage in dominating the radio, TV airwaves and Internet. As a result, the BBC is under pressure to share its publicly funded wealth with rivals.

The BBC's director general Mark Thompson, who is among those who will be affected by the pay cuts, said in a statement as part of the BBC Trust announcement that he and other senior managers "need to recognize that we are in a different economic climate." He said that "senior managers will see their total remuneration fall over the period, with the biggest reductions felt by those in the most senior positions."

Earlier this year, the BBC said it planned to reduce the amount it pays its top on-air talent following widespread public criticism about the talents' compensation.

Write to Cassell Bryan-Low at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Labor Across Prime Time TV

by Tula Connell

Prime time last night was well worth watching. The NewsHour on PBS profiled AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hosted California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.

NewsHour showcased Trumka’s start as a coal miner in Pennsylvania and his graduation from Villanova Law School, his rise to president of the Mine Workers and his key role in the tough battle against Pittston Coal Co.

The segment included clips from those early days, through to his emotional acceptance speech at our convention in September, when he was elected AFL-CIO president.

As NewsHour pointed out, Trumka made his name “as a bulldog against corporate overreach” while he was AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.

The segment went on to show a clip of Trumka saying:

"I’ll stop demonizing big business just as soon as they put their country before their profits and they put their workers before their greed."

Watch this great segment here.

Later, on the Olbermann show, DeMoro discussed health care fraud—the fraud of health insurers who won’t pay claims, who overcharge patients and who fight against real health care reform legislation.

Watch it here.

Tula Connell got her first union card while working her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (they were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now).

With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—Tulla started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), Tulla now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

View all posts by Tula Connell.

Contact Tula Connell at:
Tula Connell, AFL-CIO Managing Editor
815 16th St., N.W.Washington, DC 20006
Follow the AFL-CIO:

Affordable Health Care for America Act

By Kruger

For the first time in U.S. history, all Americans would have access to quality, affordable health care under updated health insurance reform legislation unveiled by House Democrats.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act [H.R. 3962], which blends and updates the three versions of previous bills passed by the House committees of jurisdiction in July, embodies President Obama’s key goals for health reform.

It will slow the growth in out-of-control costs, introduce competition into the health care marketplace to keep coverage affordable and insurers honest, protect people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and assure all Americans access to quality, stable, affordable health care.

The key components of the Affordable health Care for America Act include:Increasing choice and competition. The bill will protect and improve consumers’ choices.

If people like their current plans, they will be able to keep them.

For individuals who aren’t currently covered by their employer, and some small businesses, the proposal will establish a new Health Insurance Exchange where consumers can comparison shop from a menu of affordable, quality health care options that will include private plans, health co-ops, and a new public health insurance option. The public health insurance option will play on a level playing field with private insurers, spurring additional competition.
This Exchange will create competition based on quality and price that leads to better coverage and care. Patients and doctors will have control over decisions about their health care, instead of insurance companies. Giving Americans peace of mind.

The legislation will ensure that Americans have portable, secure health care coverage – so that they won’t lose care if their employer drops their plan or they lose their job.

Every American who receives coverage through the Exchange will have a plan that includes standardized, comprehensive and quality health care benefits.

It will end increases in premiums or denials of care based on pre-existing conditions, race, or gender, and strictly limit age rating.

The proposal will also eliminate co-pays for preventive care, and cap out-of-pocket expenses to protect every American from bankruptcy due to medical bills.

Improving quality of care for every American. The legislation will ensure that Americans of all ages, from young children to retirees have access to greater quality of care by focusing on prevention, wellness, and strengthening programs that work.

Guarantees that every child in America will have health care coverage that includes dental, hearing and vision benefits.

Provides better preventive and wellness care. Every health care plan offered through the exchange and by employers after a grace period will cover preventive care at no cost to the patient.

Increases the health care workforce to ensure that more doctors and nurses are available to provide quality care as more Americans get coverage.

Strengthens Medicare and Medicaid and closes the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ so that seniors and low-income Americans receive better quality of care and see lower prescription drug costs and out-of-pocket expenses.
Ensuring shared responsibility. The bill will ensure that individuals, employers, and the federal government share responsibility for a quality and affordable health care system.

Employers can continue offering coverage to workers, and those who choose not offer coverage contribute a fee of eight percent of payroll.

All individuals will generally be required to get coverage, either through their employer or the exchange, or pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of income, subject to a hardship exemption.

The federal government will provide affordability credits, available on a sliding scale for low- and middle-income individuals and families to make premiums affordable and reduce cost-sharing.

Protecting consumers and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse. The legislation will put the interests of consumers first, protect them from problems in getting and keeping health care coverage, and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse.

Provides transparency in plans in the Health Exchange so that consumers have the clear, complete information, in plain English, needed to select the plan that best meets their needs.

Establishes consumer advocacy offices as part of the Exchange in order to protect consumers, answer questions, and assist with any problems related to their plans.

Simplifies paperwork and other administrative burdens. Patients, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, providers, and employers will all encounter a streamlined, less confusing, more consumer friendly system.
Increases funding of efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse; creates enhanced oversight of Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Reducing the deficit and ensuring the solvency of Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation will be entirely paid for – it will not add a dime to the deficit. It will also put Medicare and Medicaid on the path to a more fiscally sound future, so seniors and low-income Americans can continue to receive the quality health care benefits for years to come.

Pays for the entire cost of the legislation though a combination of savings achieved by making Medicare and Medicaid more efficient – without cutting seniors’ benefits in any way – and revenue generated from placing a surcharge the top 0.3 percent of all households in the U.S.(married couples with adjusted gross income of over $1,000,000) and other tax measures.

The Congressional Budget estimates the bill will reduce the deficit by at least $100 billion over ten years.

Estimates also show the bill will slow the rate of growth of the Medicare program from 6.6 percent annually to 5.3 percent annually.

Additional Information:

A Plea to All Creatives: Stop Going to Work

By Joe Duffy

We are living in interesting times. Never before have we been so connected. Our ability to interact is nearly unlimited. Technology is a most formidable tool, the driver, a catalyst in the laboratory of life.

Designers thrive on the information available to us through this newly heightened era of connectivity. That said, information is not enough. We need inspiration to continue to stretch and truly reach our creative potential. I don't believe that inspiration is sufficiently served up in even the most compelling office environments, nor among the most creative cultures. So we need to get out of the office.

Design how you're going to work. Dial it into the rest of your life and vice versa. Be purposeful about what you do, where you are, where you really need to be in order to be happy and productive.

What makes you happy? When do you feel most inspired? What is it that generates new ideas and fruitful energy in your life? Find those things. Nurture them. Respect them. Being someplace, like in the office, for appearances sake is futile.

When I am happy, I am more creative and more productive.

When I am productive, I feel accomplished and happy. When I'm happy, I am most creative. It's a good, not a vicious, cycle.

Fresh ideas come from fresh minds. Fresh minds need constant and new stimulus. Sometimes it's about escape--seeing a performance or experiencing fine art. We're lucky in Minneapolis, I can walk down the street and take in live theater at The Guthrie or hike over to The Walker and view their latest show of contemporary art.

It could be about forcing yourself to see anew, with an open mind, like spending time with kids and remembering how to look at creative problem-solving from a more innocent perspective (my granddaughter Mia taught me how to loosen up the grip on my paintbrush).

It may be about finding the beauty and design inspiration in the constantly changing and renewing cycles of nature--get out and ride a bike.

We live in a world where burnout is rampant. No wonder why, when we now have the ability to be connected, 24/7. We have to ask ourselves what we want to be connected to. There have always been workaholics but today we see many of those behaviors shunned by a new generation of people seeking greater balance in their lives.

We now have the ability to blend what we do for a living, what we're passionate about and every other facet of our lives into a much healthier/happier life, a designed life. I honestly can't remember the last time I had a bright new idea while sitting at a desk.

Now that we have the ability to dial up, to log in, to upload notes, and download drafts from almost anywhere, we also need to learn the power of powering off and shutting down to charge up, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few weeks.

The business of design is about collaboration at its core. At times this is best accomplished face to face in an office setting. At times it will require working outside of normal office hours as we cross time zones and latitudes.

It also will require the occasional all-nighter or the work-thru-weekend--it's the rollercoaster way the business of design works. But these are all more palatable and have the potential to even be energizing if we realize the opportunities that being connected really affords us as creative business people. You shouldn't try to achieve the normal 9-to-5 routine in an endeavor that is not conducive to it.

I look forward to going to the office now that I don't consider it "going to work." For me it's actually the more social aspect of creating design. Because I'm not going there out of habit or for the sake of appearances, it's just another interesting facet of everyday life and it helps keep things in balance.

Balance = happy = creative = productive. Repeat.

[Feel the Music and Go Outside by Erin Hanson]
Read Joe Duffy's blog Duffy Point of ViewBrowse blogs by other Expert Designers

Principal and chairman of Duffy & Partners, Joe Duffy is one of the most respected and sought after creative directors and thought leaders on branding and design in the world. Joe's work includes brand and corporate identity development for some of the world's most admired brands, from Aveda to Coca-Cola to Sony to Jack in the Box to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

His work is regularly featured in leading marketing and design publications and exhibited around the world. In 2004 he founded Duffy & Partners as a new kind of branding and creativity company, partnering with clients and other firms in all communication disciplines.

Also in 2004, he received the Medal from the AIGA for a lifetime of achievement in the field of visual communications. His first book--Brand Apart--was released in July 2005 and in 2006, he was recognized as one of the "Fast 50" most influential people in the future of business by Fast Company.

Labor Gains - Obama Policies - Cooper Tire-to-Walmart - Companies Rue

By Holly Rosenkrantz

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is paying tariffs on imported tires. Free-trade agreements sought by Caterpillar Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are on hold. Delta Air Lines Inc. flight attendants may join a union.

There’s a common thread running through these developments. Organized labor is gaining momentum under the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama.

Though reaching their most-publicized goals -- legislation making it easier to organize and a government-run health insurance program -- remains in doubt, unions are making other gains through executive orders, rule changes and appointments. More advances may be ahead as regulatory nominees are confirmed.

“You absolutely know something is going to happen to you, you just don’t know when,” said Michael Lotito, a San Francisco attorney at Jackson Lewis LLP who handles labor issues for companies. “There is going to be a flurry of labor action down the pike.”

Their status is a change for labor officials, who say the Republican administration of George W. Bush was hostile to their agenda. “Welcome back to the White House!” Vice President Joe Biden said to union leaders who met with the president at the White House 10 days after his inauguration.

John Sweeney, 75, who headed the AFL-CIO for 14 years before stepping aside last month, says he was invited to the White House once during Bush’s eight years in office. That was at the request of visiting Pope Benedict XVI, he says. The AFL- CIO is the nation’s largest union group.

‘Wandering in Wilderness’

Richard Trumka, 60, Sweeney’s successor, says he meets monthly with Obama, and that union representatives have “daily contacts throughout the administration.” Obama officials visit with labor leaders “frequently,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

“After eight years wandering in the wilderness, unions have unprecedented access to the White House, and early directives and appointments have been encouraging for them,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor relations professor at the University of California at Berkley.

Unions were among Obama’s biggest supporters in the 2008 election, with 68 percent of AFL-CIO members voting for him in so-called battleground states, according to an election night poll by Peter Hart Research Associates. Labor unions and their political action committees spent a record $450 million during the campaign to help Democrats win the White House and gain control of Congress.

Obama sided with the United Steelworkers last month against tire makers such as Cooper Tire and imposed 35 percent tariffs on tires imported from China. Bush rejected putting tariffs on Chinese products all four times the issue came before him.

Cooper Tire

Cooper, the second-biggest U.S. tire maker after Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., produces low-cost tires in China and opposed the tariffs. The Steelworkers argued that a surge in Chinese tires threatened U.S. jobs.
“It’s certainly been more difficult,” said Michelle Zeisloft, a spokeswoman for Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper. She declined to elaborate. Because of the tariffs, Cooper went from breaking even on imported tires to losing $14.50 on each one, according to a Sept. 21 report by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“This was done to support a fairly small pool of union workers,” Bill Trimarco, chief executive officer of closely held Hercules Tire & Rubber Co., also based in Findlay, said in an interview. “They won at the expense of companies like ours.”
Complaints from business about union gains are an affront to workers, said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers.

‘That’s Pablum’

“All those ‘victories’ they are talking about -- that’s pablum from those bastards,” Gerard, 62, said in an interview. “All we’re doing is standing up for jobs.”

The Steelworkers also pressed for the “Buy American” provision included in Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus program adopted in February. Obama’s bailout of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC saved jobs of United Auto Workers members, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters claimed victory when Congress scrapped in March a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to deliver products in the U.S.

“Unions have accomplished a lot with the administration in less than a year,” said Clayton Boyce, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations in Arlington, Virginia. The trade group’s members include United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and YRC Worldwide, Inc., the biggest U.S. trucking company by sales.

(Bad) Trade Deals Stalled

The AFL-CIO and the Teamsters also led union opposition to a pending free-trade agreement with Panama. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office dropped plans for a vote on the measure in May, saying Obama wanted first to offer a new “framework” for how trade fits into other administration programs.

He has yet to do that. Behind the Panama deal in the trade queue are tentative agreements with Colombia and South Korea, supported by companies including Caterpillar and Walmart.

“We’re beyond being befuddled; we’re frustrated,” said Bill Lane, director of government affairs for Peoria, Illinois- based Caterpillar, the world’s biggest maker of construction equipment. “There is way too much focus on protectionist schemes that are intended to close the U.S. market.”

Daphne Moore, a Walmart spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The trade office “is actively working” on the agreements, spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said in an e-mailed statement. “A common misconception” is that the accords “were presented to this administration ‘sitting there with a bow tied around them ready to go,’ when in fact there is more work to be done,” she said.

Delta Elections

Delta Air Lines, the world’s largest carrier, would be more likely to lose union elections sought by flight attendants and machinists if a proposal by the AFL-CIO is approved.

The workers asked the National Mediation Board in July and August to clear the way for an election. Last month, the AFL-CIO petitioned the board to revise procedures and allow a union if most of those voting approve, instead of a majority of all workers in the class.

The board plans to announce a proposal in coming days to advance the union request on voting rules, people familiar with the matter said. Seven Republican senators said in a Sept. 30 letter that the board was delaying a decision on the union election while it considers the new vote-counting method.

The AFL-CIO request is “unbelievable,” said Robert Corker, a Tennessee senator who signed the letter. “I think big labor is going to unfortunately be given an unlevel playing field” in the Obama administration, he said in an interview.

The mediation board declined to comment.

Former Union Leader

The Obama administration in May added a former flight- attendants’ union leader to the three-person board, replacing a former lobbyist for Northwest Airlines, which is now part of Atlanta-based Delta. Another board member is a former pilot- union official.

“You have two former heads of AFL-CIO unions at the NMB and they really are politicizing the process,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson said on a conference call with investors last week.

“Our employees deserve to have union representation resolved promptly, using a process that is fair and consistent” by following existing rules, said Gina Laughlin, a Delta spokeswoman, in an e-mail. Delta is the least-unionized major U.S. airline.

First Bill

The first bill Obama signed into law as president, nine days after taking office, was a pro-labor measure. The Lilly Ledbetter legislation, named for the woman who won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, makes it easier to fight pay discrimination.

More bills supported by labor, stalled in past years because of White House opposition, have Obama’s support and may get the votes to pass once they get on the legislative calendar.

These include measures barring workers from getting fired because of their sexual orientation, stiffening penalties for violations of Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations, and requiring companies to provide workers with a week of paid sick leave.

Obama also has scrapped a number of Bush rulings opposed by unions. One required federal contractors to post notices telling workers they can limit their financial support of unions. Another let contractors be reimbursed for expenses that could be used to dissuade workers from forming a union.

Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are fighting two labor-related Obama nominees still awaiting confirmation: National Labor Relations Board member Craig Becker, an attorney for the Service Employees International Union, and OSHA director nominee David Michaels, who has written a book criticizing industry opposition to regulations.

“The failure to get some of the nominees in quickly has kept some of the agencies from moving, but once they’re in, the business community’s only recourse is litigation,” said Randy Johnson, who handles labor policy at the chamber, the nation’s largest business lobbying group.

OSHA’s acting director, Jordan Barab, signaled a new tone at the agency in a speech to the Wisconsin AFL-CIO last month. One of the first things he did when he arrived, Barab said, was to replace pictures of OSHA managers displayed in a conference room with photos of workers who had been killed on the job.

The National Mediation Board plans to make it easier for unions to organize workers at carriers including Delta Air Lines Inc., people familiar with the matter said.

The proposal, to be announced in coming days, would let workers form unions with a majority approval of those voting, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the plan. The change would overturn a standard that requires support of most workers in a class, not just those who cast ballots.

The National Mediation Board helps resolve labor disputes and oversees elections for airlines and railroads under the Railway Labor Act. The three-member board, criticized by labor for actions under Republican George W. Bush’s administration, now has a Democratic majority with President Barack Obama in office.

The change would be a victory for the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation. The group asked the National Mediation Board to overhaul the voting standard last month, saying it would be more democratic. “It’s been our sincere hope that the National Mediation Board would look at our recommendations favorably,” Edward Wytkind, head of the AFL-CIO’s transportation trades department, said in an interview today.

A National Mediation Board spokesman didn’t immediately return a telephone call to comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sam Zell: 'With some reasonable luck,' Tribune Co. will exit bankruptcy in early 2010

By Phil Rosenthal

Saying his investment in Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co. represents "certainly the most amount of money I've ever lost in a single deal" billionaire Sam Zell said Wednesday that he no longer believes the media company will emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the end of this year."With some reasonable luck, I think it'll be out sometime by the end of the first quarter (of 2010)," Zell, Tribune Co.'s chairman and chief executive, told Bloomberg Television. "I've been involved in a lot of bankruptcies in my life -- most of the time as the buyer of the debt as opposed to the debtor in possession. Bankruptcies, by definition, are very frustrating, and they will continue to be."

Tribune Co. filed for Chapter 11 protection last December because it was struggling to manage the debt from the deal Zell engineered to take the company private a year earlier.

The heavily leveraged transaction for $8.2 billion saddled the Tribune Co. with $13 billion in debt just as the bottom fell out of the advertising market.

The original deal gave Zell a $90 million warrant that gave him the right to buy about 40 percent of the company for $500 million and has been the basis of his control of the company. "I don't think that that structure and that original plan will survive in bankruptcy," Zell said in the interview.

Zell also holds a $250 million note representing a loan he made to Tribune Co. as part of the going-private transaction, but that note is near the bottom of the hierarchy of claims in Tribune Co.'s bankruptcy case and is seen as unlikely to retain any value during the capital reorganization.

With regard to the allegation by some bond holders that the Tribune Co. leverage buyout should have been seen as doomed from the start and therefore represented "fraudulent conveyance," Zell said it's a common argument in bankruptcy cases."Most of the junior creditors in most of the scenarios will allege a fraudulent conveyance," he said. "In the end, it's very difficult to prove, number one. Number two, in this particular case, I don't think it's valid. But ultimately it becomes a basis for negotiations.

"Zell said he was "very happy for the Ricketts family," which acquired control of the Chicago Cubs from Tribune a day earlier. The transaction for the Cubs, who haven't won a World Series in 1908, has been valued at $845 million."I think the team should be owned by somebody who is local, somebody who is really passionate about baseball," Zell said. "I happen to be local. I'm not passionate about baseball. So I wish them all of the best of luck. And maybe we'll break the 101-year curse."

In an April interview with Bloomberg, Zell said that the Tribune Co. deal was, by definition, "a mistake" in that it lost money.

He was asked yet again Wednesday if he regretted the deal and would do it again if he could go back in time. "You can't look back," Zell said. "As I've said oftentimes, my head only work straight. So the answer is: If we made a mistake, or it didn't work it, it didn't work. ... and in this particular case, there was such a crash in the revenue side of the entire newspaper business. As you see by the other companies, nobody could survive it."

Fox Crew Will Swing For Fences

By Michael Hiestand
Sports on TV at USA Today

This notion should spark unspeakable horror for corporate types. Imagine having to make a decision at work without forming a task force, preparing a PowerPoint or even calling a meeting – with millions of strangers instantly able to judge your call.

But Fox, on its World Series coverage starting tonight, faces just such terror.

Or more specifically, Fox director Bill Webb does. While live TV sports production is highly collaborative – Fox will deploy about 150 workers tonight – you can't make split-second decisions by committee.

Tonight, Webb will sit next to producer Pete Macheska, who oversees the show, in a cramped TV trailer at Yankee Stadium. They'll stare at a wall of screens showing what's in focus on each of Fox's 20 cameras, and Webb will decide which shot you'll get. With no do-overs.

One other thing. Rupert Murdoch's Fox pays MLB about $256 million annually – mainly to get postseason action – so there's some pretty big money riding on these games.

So, Bill, tense? Well, he says, "the most important thing is to not get the crew uptight."

Webb, directing his 13th World Series, is also the producer of New York Mets local TV games. That detail might flummox conspiracy theorists trying to figure out whether Fox's shots are secretly favoring the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies, since both are Mets archenemies.

And it's all besides the point anyway. "In reality," Webb says, "I'm not a big baseball fan in terms of teams. If you're a fan of one team or another, you shouldn't be in the business."

Webb's business is about trying to never miss a live pitch. Beyond that, though, Webb says some of his basics have evolved. He no longer automatically leaves action around the ball to instead show runners scoring easily – "I'll just show him going into the dugout so you know he scored" – and Fox doesn't have as many crowd shots as it used to. "Crowd shots I'll do between pitches; it's dead time," he says. "I'm not a big fan of them. During the regular season, you've got a lot more liberty. But in a platinum game like this, every pitch means something. You stay with what's going on in the field."

Big championship events, such as the Series or the Super Bowl, always attract strange audiences – lots of aficionados as well as viewers who never otherwise watch the sport.

That can lead to conflicting objectives for TV: Sell up-close-and-personal drama – for casual fans – and offer inside information for the know-it-alls. (Eventually, TV networks will end this with a simple solution that ESPN has tested on college basketball: Put the same game on two channels, with one version offering hard-core sports and the other offering softer stuff.)

Fox, in a new wrinkle, tries to juggle those goals by sometimes simultaneously splitting the screen three ways, with close-ups of the batter and the pitcher – for dramatic effect – as it shows an informative close-up of the catcher flashing the pitch signal between his legs.

Pretty busy. But, says Webb, at least viewers know what pitch is coming. And not as busy, notes Webb, as when on past Series action he split the screen four ways when bases were loaded – "too confusing, that was a strikeout."

Webb says Fox asked him if he wanted the type of camera that hangs from a cable and zips along foul lines, used by TBS on its playoff games. He declined – "That was more for wide-shot color" – in favor of getting a remote-controlled camera to shoot the bullpens.

But the camera he'd really like has nothing to do with technology. He wants a camera operator on fields, just to trail pitchers to the mound or batters to the box. "I don't see what the problem is when there's no action going on. ... I won't get in your way."

And it would beat another crowd shot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something We Should All Read Once A Week!!

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.

"My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years,will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything youdid or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

45. Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.

Local 600 Fights For New Media Jurisdiction in Local TV

Local 600 Fights For New Media Jurisdiction in Local TV

Our photojournalist members at KIRO-TV in Seattle have been without a contract for 19 months in the face of a demand from the Company that Local 600 agree to give up jurisdiction over new media and the Internet.
I want to take this opportunity to praise our members at KIRO who have steadfastly refused to cave in on this most vital issue facing our Guild. If we give up new media jurisdiction, we have little or no future.

That contract fight in Seattle moves to a new phase next week at a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board to consider our petition for a “Unit Clarification” – we contend that KIRO’s website should properly be considered part of our bargaining unit. Our attorneys tell us that we have an excellent chance to prevail.

While that is good news – and better news once we win – the Company has already told us that they will appeal if they lose and drag it out for years.
For that reason we have to keep up the pressure at the bargaining table, and in a public information campaign that calls upon KIRO to give up on its plan to create a non-union operation in New Media.
Please join me in saluting out sisters and brothers shooting the news in Seattle. Their fight is our fight.

Congress: We Want Real Health Care Reform Now!

The insurance companies and their corporate front groups are fighting desperately to stop reform, but we're not going to let them. We need health insurance reform so no one ever is denied coverage because of a "pre-existing condition." We need health insurance reform so no one is dropped by their insurance company simply because they are too expensive.

Tell Congress now is the time for health care reform and remind them health care reform must include:

A strong public health insurance option must be available to lower costs and make sure everybody has a health care option.

All employers should be required either to provide health care for their employees or pay into a system to make sure everyone is covered.

No new costs or taxes that would hurt working families.

Sample Letter:

Dear [ Decision Maker ],

(Edit Letter Below)The time to act is now. We need real health care reform now more than ever. Our health care system is failing us, and we need relief from health care costs that are bankrupting families, endangering our health and hobbling businesses.

Health care reform can't wait.

As you work to fulfill our demand for health care reform, here is what real health care reform must include:

1) A public health insurance plan. It will bring down costs and guarantee quality, affordable health care for all. Giving everyone the choice of a strong public health insurance plan will inject needed competition into the market, drive down costs and improve quality across all plans. It also will mean health care will be there for all of us, no matter what.

2) Employers must pay their fair share. They must be required either to offer coverage for their workers or pay into a fund to finance coverage for uninsured workers. "Play or pay" at fair and reasonable levels will level the playing field so free-rider firms cannot continue to shift costs to the employers that offer good benefits.

3) We should not force working people to pay more for the insurance they already have in the form of increased taxes on our health benefits. This would raise costs for workers in plans cover people with more medical problems and older people--and that's wrong.

Sincerely,[Your name] [Your address]

Take Action on this Issue
Send this message to:
Your Congressperson
Your Senators

Click on the link below to send this important message to your elected officials.

Hi All,

I've given a great deal of thought to the issue of health care reform.

The United States of America is the wealthiest nation on the planet. We spend more money per capita on health care than any other country, and still have more people without health insurance than any industrialized nation in the world. The current situation can not continue.

I'm not usually comfortable with government intervention, (I'm told I may have authority issues, go figure,) but some activities are just not appropriate for profit centered business.

Nobody would argue today that fire and police protection should be placed in the hands of private industry, yet in the early days of the Republic, fire protection was not provided by the local municipalities.

Firefighting was done by employees of insurance companies, who sold fire insurance policies to business and home owners at a profit to their investors. If you could not afford to pay, your home or business would burn to the ground if you could not gather enough family, friends, and neighbors to fight the fire yourself.

The competition between rival insurance company fire departments was fierce and often became violent. Cost cuts in personnel and equipment to increase profits resulted in the destruction of countless homes and many needless fatalities. Today, paid and volunteer firefighters receive their funding from local, state, and federal taxpayer support.

Medical care being in the hands of private industry makes as much sense as private fire departments.

Reputable research has shown that the most efficient health plan currently available is the plan provided to federal employees. This is a competitive plan in terms of benefits provided and because there are no stockholders needing a profitable return, only 5% of the cost goes to the administrative expences. The most efficient private insurance plans have at leat 18% in administrative and shareholder return expences. Clearly, if the profit motive is removed from the equation, substantial savings can be realized.

Health care reform with a public option will allow employers that can't afford to provide full health insurance benefits to their workers the ability to pay a small share of the cost into the pool, which when subsidized by Federal and State money, will bring the cost down low enough for the employees to be able to afford to pay the difference.

This kind of patnership between workers, employers, and government is the only way we can safeguard the health and wellbeing of the American people without undermining the democratic principals of our capitalist society.

All the best,

Bob D

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tribune Co. bankruptcy case: Bondholder group says company hid fees

From Tribune staff
Group also alleges media company favors senior lenders

A dissident bondholder group in Tribune Co.'s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case accused the company and its senior lenders of hiding "millions of dollars" worth of fees that it said were being paid to law firms and investment banks employed by the lenders.

In a court motion filed Friday, Law Debenture Trust Co., the bondholder group's trustee, said senior lenders pressured Tribune Co. to have subsidiaries not included in the original Chapter 11 filing, including the Chicago Cubs, pay fees owed to law firms and investment banks employed by the lenders.

Since those lenders are also unsecured creditors, fees paid to their advisers must by law be disclosed, the motion said.

The bondholders also accused Chicago-based Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune, of favoring the senior lenders in negotiations toward a restructuring settlement and participating in a "plan to assist in burying the estate's claims against the ... lenders."Those potential claims were raised earlier in the case by the same bondholder group, which is led by New York private-equity firm Centerbridge Partners.

The group has argued since August that Chicago billionaire Sam Zell's $8.2 billion bid to take Tribune Co. private was doomed from the start, meaning claims by the lenders that financed the deal -- JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, among others -- should be invalidated. If such a "fraudulent conveyance" claim could be proved, the senior lenders would go away empty-handed, leaving more value in the estate for other creditors like the bondholders.
Law Debenture and Centerbridge earlier accused the Committee of Unsecured Creditors of being conflicted because two of the senior lenders were members.

As a result, the bondholders pressed for special counsel to seek out evidence of fraudulent conveyance.

Tribune Co. declined to comment but said it would respond by a court-appointed date of Nov. 9.

N.Y. City's Film Business In A Cliff-hanger?

By Miriam Kreinin Souccar

Bigger Fees, Smaller Incentives Threaten Boom

At least seven feature films, including Sex and the City 2 and Wall Street 2, and 16 television shows are shooting in New York right now. But the city's lucrative production business could soon end up on the cutting room floor.

The film industry, which has enjoyed record growth since the state started its tax incentive plan five years ago, is being hit with a number of new obstacles that could wreck the business and send longtime hits like Law & Order packing to cheaper locales.

The latest shock to the industry is a plan by the city to charge the largest fees in the nation for filming in its buildings.

The Mayor's film office is also drawing up plans to charge for its famous free permits.

Even more troubling, the city's tax incentive program is out of money and in the process of being scaled back, and the state is in negotiations over whether to renew its tax incentives.

The quadruple whammy is pushing the production industry into its most precarious time since the dark days of the early '90s, when Hollywood boycotted New York and nothing was shot here at all.

“The message we're being given is that 'New York is no longer a production-friendly place,' ” says Richard Brick, a New York-based producer and former film commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins.

Industry executives question the moves as the production boom has been one of the state's few bright spots in the recession. The production industry added 800 jobs in 2008, while most sectors posted job losses. And according to a 2007 Ernst & Young study, the state and city collected $2.7 billion in taxes from movie and TV productions, while laying out only $690 million in tax credits.

“We've proven that filmmaking is good for New York, and they are killing it,” says producer Michael Hausman, adding that his Taking Woodstock, which spent more than $6 million in New York, would not have been green-lighted without the tax incentives.

The biggest concern to filmmakers right now is the proposal by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to charge $3,200 every time a TV show, movie or commercial shoots in a city building.

The new fees, which were developed with the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting and will be split 50-50 between the two agencies, are likely to go into effect in the next couple of months, after a public hearing process is completed. Sources say the agencies estimate they will each earn around $136,000 a year. In the meantime, the film office has drawn up a plan to charge for some of its services, like issuing permits to film on the streets, if its $1.8 million budget is cut.

Katherine Oliver, the city's film commissioner, says the fees are a result of the financial crisis and are necessary to “cover administrative costs associated with the use of city buildings by productions.”

She notes that filming at city buildings represents less than 5% of the total location shooting. She adds that the DCAS fee is nominal in comparison to what private locations charge for film shoots, which can be as much as $10,000 a day.

But film executives fear that once one city agency starts imposing fees, others—like the MTA, for example—will follow suit, making filming in New York even more cost-prohibitive. If the fees become excessive, longtime New York icons, such as Law & Order, could end up somewhere like Detroit or Chicago.

“We're always being asked [by corporate parent NBC Universal] about taking shows to any number of cities, where it can be more cost effective,” says Fred Berner, executive producer of Law & Order. States like Michigan offer a 40% tax incentive.

Production executives agree that if the fees alone were all they had to contend with, there would be less worry. But already, the city's 5% tax incentive program has run out of money, and legislation to extend it calls for downsizing the credit to 4%, reducing it further over the life of a television show, and capping the amount a production can get.

In addition, the $350 million, one-year extension of the state's successful 30% tax incentive program expires March 31, and with a state budget deficit that could reach $4.1 billion this year, it is unlikely it will be refunded at the same level.

Film industry lobbyists began meeting with the governor's office this month in a bid to make the program permanent, or at least more long-term, but the issue won't be resolved until the budget is finalized in April.

“We have the single most successful economic development program in recent history, and we're nickel-and-diming it when we should be fully funding it and making it a long-term proposition,” says Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, D-Queens.


Film And TV Costume Company Folds

Odds Costume Rentals, which for 22 years supplied clothes for TV shows like Law & Order and movies such as Road to Perdition, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection this week.

The Manhattan-based shop, which started liquidating its inventory over the summer, was a victim of rising rents during the recession and changes in the way the entertainment industry does business. Revenue fell about 10% last year, according to Jeanette Oleksa, the firm's owner. That loss, coupled with a rent increase of $5,000 more per month a couple years ago, was too much to handle.

“For small businesses in New York now, if you don't own the building you're in, you're not going to stay in business,” Ms. Oleksa said. “You get eaten up alive between rising insurance and rents.”
Odds Costume Rentals owes a total of $275,196 to creditors, $86,309 which is back-payment on rent, according to the filing.

Ms. Oleksa said the main problem that's plaguing costume shops these days, however, is simply that productions now get much of their costumes for free from designers and clothing companies looking for promotion.

“The people at the top say, ‘We can just get these jeans from the Gap and these sneakers from Nike, and we've got a whole free outfit here. Why do we need to rent anything?'” Ms. Oleksa said.
Odds Costume Rental (231 W.29th Street, 3rd Floor, open to 4pm), an industry rental resource for over twenty years, is closing its doors next month, and are currently putting their entire enormous archives on sale. For the past few weeks, the sale has been open only to designers, costumers, and stylists, but according to the ladies who run the sale, it will be opening to the public starting this Friday.

Meanwhile, Odds Costume Rentals wasn't the only production-related business to shutter this week. Snap Productions, a scouting and location firm, also filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
Snap owed a total of $561,070.09 to creditors including $35,000 in lease arrears to Grubb & Ellis Management Services Inc.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Organizing 2.0: Training And Strategy Conference for Labor and Social Justice Activists

Organizing 2.0: Training and Strategy Conference for Labor and Social Justice Activists

Dec. 5, 2009

Can online organizing be seen as real organizing? That’s a challenging question for those of us with the longest memories and the most experience in organizing for social justice. That said, online organizing has proven its value to the recent presidential campaign, and groups like MoveOn and Color of Change have become a powerful force through innovative online strategies.

What does this mean for our organizations?

What skills do we need to share to make the most of the online medium to advance economic fairness in New York City and New York State?

Sign up and propose the topics you need today:

Organizing 2.0 • NYC is a grassroots led conference of social justice organizers primarily from labor and the community organizing world. Our goal is to build capacity, network, and organize to win victories in 2010 and beyond.

As a grassroots led conference, we need all of you: experienced online campaigners and those just starting out, senior staff and volunteer leaders.

Please sign up for our conference announcement list.

Organizing 2.0 • NYC: Training and Strategy Conference for Labor and Social Justice Activists


Saturday • Dec. 5 • 9 am – 5pm


CUNY Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies
25 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-7406

Organized by:

The Murphy Institute, The Center for Working Families, Jobs with Justice, Citizen Action, Workers United/SEIU, Community Voices Heard, Right to the City, Progressive Technology Project, Organizing for America, the Working Families Party, CIR/SEIU, Manhattan Young Democrats, International Labor Communications Association (ILCA), Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, The Albany Project, GrassrootsCamp, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, Living Liberally, Workplace Fairness, NY 501-Tech-Club, FireDogLake, Cornell (ILR) School Labor Programs, Netroots Nation and more.

With key support from Sura Hart, Steve Peretz, R. Fureigh, David Bennion, Dara Silverman, David Pollack, Mary Bruch, Sam Briggs, Matthew Wilse, Ben Kallos, Edward Ott, and more.

Proposed Sessions and Strategy Sessions:

What can my organization do for free?

Choosing low cost online organizing and advocacy software

Getting the most out of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and YouTube

Training session: managing your constituent data for beginners

Case studies: what union locals have done online

Engaging the New York blogosphere

Moving online supporters offline, and offline supporters online

Painful transitions: managing the trauma of adding more ‘online’ to your organizing

The digital divide: myth vs. reality

Case studies: online tactics used in the recent ’09 elections.

Coalitions online: how we can swarm and win on local issues.

MoveOn’s offline organizing – what you need to know even though you aren’t MoveOn

What online pressure tactics work best at the city and state level?

Brainstorm: what are the big legislative fights of 2010, and how do we win the Netroots fight?

How can we generate national Netroots attention for New York issues?

Want to propose a session or speaker?

Endorse this event?

Assure that your group will be able to send a representative?

Sign up here.

Charles Lenchner • Director of Online Organizing • Working Families PartyW: 718.222.3796 x245 • C: 347.204.4918

PIX Completes First Phase of Station Reinvention

Changes On-Air Reflect the Spirit, Diversity and Imagination of New York

NEW YORK, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The name change was just the beginning. Evolving from CW11 to PIX, WPIX (New York's Channel 11) is returning to its roots and premiering the initial phase of its content reinvention--rethinking the way it serves viewers both on the air and on the streets.

The first station to provide instant replay (Yankees vs. White Sox- July 17, 1959) and to air the Rolling Stones' first New York TV appearance (on WPIX's "Clay Cole Show" 1964) PIX is returning to the pioneering spirit that shaped its reputation as one of the nation's leading local television stations.

PIX has evolved its presentation, introducing a new logo, new graphics (including a time and temperature PIX logo which changes by holiday and season) and creating a PIX sonic logo and station "soundtrack," which is heard across PIX and on

"In challenging economic times, it's easy to take your eye off creative innovation," said Lee Abrams, Chief Innovation Officer, Tribune Company. "We look at it as a rare opportunity, that coupled with increasing competition for the eyes and ears of America is critical for growth and relevance. WPIX has shown the courage to get in the fight and create television magic in the #1 market."

The station has designed a cohesive visual package and a sonic presentation that reflects the spirit, diversity and imagination of New York. PIX reaches viewers throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and the newly created on-air vision captures this span.

PIX is capturing the spirit of New York by working with local photographers, artists and musicians and showcasing their imagery and music on-air. From the big cities to small towns and neighborhoods, PIX provides viewers with a cinematic picture of the Tri-State area.

"PIX will continue to evolve and innovate, listening closely to what viewers tell us they want from a local station and do our best to provide them with what they expect...some things they'd never expect," said John Zeigler, PIX Director of Creative and Marketing Services.

And this is only the beginning.


Founded in 1948 and owned by Tribune Broadcasting, a division of the Tribune Company, WPIX-TV has long been regarded as a groundbreaking station in New York.

In 2006 WPIX became the flagship station of the CW Network, and PIX's successful primetime programming, award winning news, extensive library of hit movies, first-run programs, off-network sitcom favorites, children's programming and public affairs shows, as well as outstanding event coverage, have contributed to the station's success.

WPIX has earned over 170 Emmy Awards, including multiple awards for Outstanding Morning News Program and for Outstanding Newscast. The station has been honored with numerous other awards for excellence in reporting, news coverage, public affairs, specials and features.

In addition, the WPIX has been the official broadcast television home of the New York Mets since 1999. For more information, visit


Soupy Sales Dies At 83


DETROIT (AP) -- Soupy Sales, the rubber-faced comedian whose anything-for-a-chuckle career was built on 20,000 pies to the face and 5,000 live TV appearances across a half-century of laughs, has died. He was 83.

Sales died at Thursday night at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx, New York, said his former manager and longtime friend, Dave Usher. Sales had many health problems and entered the hospice last week, Usher said. At the peak of his fame in the 1950s and '60s, Sales was one of the best-known faces in the nation, Usher said.

"If President Eisenhower would have walked down the street, no one would have recognized him as much as Soupy," said Usher.

At the same time, Sales retained an openness to fans that turned every restaurant meal into an endless autograph-signing session, Usher said. "He was just good to people," said Usher, a former jazz music producer who managed Sales in the 1950s.

Sales began his TV career in Cincinnati and Cleveland, then moved to Detroit, where he drew a large audience on WXYZ-TV. He moved to Los Angeles in 1961.

The comic's pie-throwing schtick became his trademark, and celebrities lined up to take one on the chin alongside Sales. During the early 1960s, stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Shirley MacLaine received their just desserts side-by-side with the comedian on his television show.

"I'll probably be remembered for the pies, and that's all right," Sales said in a 1985 interview.
His greatest success came in New York with "The Soupy Sales Show" - an ostensible children's show that had little to do with Captain Kangaroo and other kiddie fare. Sales' manic, improvisational style also attracted an older audience that responded to his envelope-pushing antics.

Sales, who was typically clad in a black sweater and oversized bow-tie, was once suspended for a week after telling his legion of tiny listeners to empty their mothers' purse and mail him all the pieces of green paper bearing pictures of the presidents.

The cast of "Saturday Night Live" later paid homage by asking their audience to send in their joints. His influence was also obvious in the Pee-Wee Herman character created by Paul Reubens.

Sales returned from the Navy after World War II and became a $20-a-week reporter at a West Virginia radio station. He jumped to a DJ gig, changed his name to Soupy Heinz and headed for Ohio.

His first pie to the face came in 1951, when the newly christened Soupy Sales was hosting a children's show in Cleveland. In Detroit, Sales' show garnered a national reputation as he honed his act - a barrage of sketches, gags and bad puns that played in the Motor City for seven years.
After moving to Los Angeles, he eventually became a fill-in host on "The Tonight Show."

He moved to New York in 1964 and debuted "The Soupy Sales Show," with co-star puppets White Fang (the meanest dog in the United States) and Black Tooth (the nicest dog in the United States).
By the time his Big Apple run ended two years later, Sales had appeared on 5,370 live television programs - the most in the medium's history, he boasted. He had a pair of albums that hit the Billboard Top 10 in 1965; "Do the Mouse" sold 250,000 copies in New York alone.

Sales remained a familiar television face, first as a regular from 1968-75 on the game show "What's My Line?" and later appearing on everything from "The Mike Douglas Show" to "The Love Boat." He played himself in the 1998 movie "Holy Man," which starred Eddie Murphy.

He joined WNBC-AM as a disc jockey in 1985, a stint best remembered because Sales filled the hours between shock jocks Don Imus and Howard Stern.

Sales is survived by his wife, Trudy, and two sons, Hunt and Tony, a pair of musicians who backed David Bowie in the band Tin Machine.