Thursday, March 3, 2011

AFTRA Authorizes WEEK-WHOI Staffers to Strike as Station Considers Outside News Production

By Andrew Gauthier

Anchors, reporters, photojournalists, and producers at WEEK-WHOI in central Illinois have been working for the past two weeks without a formal labor contract and now members of the stations’ news team are going on record about the ongoing negotiations between their union and Granite Broadcasting, the stations’ parent company.

At the center of the dispute, according to WEEK-WHOI employees, is Granite’s desire to use news content produced outside of the market.

“We believe local news should be local,” anchor Gina Morss told the Peoria Journal Star.

The union contract covering members of the WEEK-WHOI news team expired on February 18th and AFTRA is set to meet with Granite for a bargaining session on March 21st. In the meantime, the union has authorized anchor Garry Moore, the local union president, to call a strike.

Moore told the Journal Star that some type of job action is possible but would not say if that includes a walk-out. Moore has yet to respond to TVSpy’s requests for comment.

The local chapter of AFTRA is now interacting with WEEK-WHOI viewers on its AFTRA Facebook page.

“Leave our local news broadcasts alone!” writes one viewer.

Broadcast Union News: In New York, WNBC, WCBS, FOX5, WWOR, and WPIX, 5 out of the six broadcast stations in America's largest market share crews, equipment, and stories via a "Local News Service" (LNS). A single assignment editor now decides what is on almost every news broadcast! We need to stand together to save our jobs.

If you really want to do something hit this company in their pocketbook! Contact the people who advertise on the respective channels and let them know you will not watch their station because of this change. Let them know their advertising dollars will be wasted. If enough people do so the companies that advertise will start to listen and put pressure on WEEK-WHOI to keep local news local. If not, then be a wise consumer and stop purchasing their products all together.

Several of the people who "work" at Granite's station in Detroit, also work at their station in Ft. Wayne!  If you want to preserve the future of local news in Peoria you are encouraged to contact:

They are already broadcasting Detroit newscasts from Ft. Wayne.

Mark DeSantis
General Manager
2907 Springfield Road
East Peoria, IL 61611

Mr. Peter Markham
Chairman of Granite Broadcasting

Mr. Duane Lammers
Chief Operating Officer
Granite Broadcasting

Granite Broadcasting
767 Third Ave, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017

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