This is one of the great things about life in the US, which people around the world might not realize – each TV station has their own newscasts throughout the day – starting as early as 5AM and ending as late as 11PM, with upwards of 8 hours of newscasts interspersed in there. The fight over ratings are usually epic ones – and lately have been dominated by two stations – the NBC affiliate and the ABC affiliate – who is known for putting their bleeding logo over every show on their channel – it’s not like we don’t know that if we’re watching ABC, we’re watching channel 12!
Because of this, all four of the local stations that have news on have determined that there are two things that should, nay, must lead every newscast – the Packers and the weather. Some days only one thing leads the news, others – especially over the last couple of days – both do.
For example, the NBC affiliate here (WTMJ) has the rights to the preseason games for the team, and have given themselves the moniker “Your official Packers Station” – they have been breaking into programming during the week to show press conferences. Normally, only selected clips of these conferences would be seen during the sports, but viewers of “Days of Our Lives” on Wednesday received a message that their show was being timeshifted so that they could air a press conference.
Yesterday, both them and the Fox affiliate (WITI) aired another press conference, and between the two of them, I’d venture to guess that about a full 1/3rd of news airtime has been consumed by Packers news – never mind that in the city there have been four murders this week (all in one day), plenty of fires (including one that caused over half-a-million dollars of damage to a ski resort), and a whole lot of “hard” news that, in a more reasonable world, would get more coverage than about thirty seconds during an “in other news” segment.
The latest fascination for the stations over the last couple of days has been the extremely cold weather – around here, we get below the 0 mark (Fahrenheit) a couple of times a year – and without fail, they’ll have a reporter out there saying that we shouldn’t go out unless we have to. I have to say that I went out in the weather today – the car’s thermometer said it was -8°F (-22°C – it lets you switch from US to Metric 😉 ) outside, and really, it wasn’t that bad if you weren’t out there for very long and with a large building protecting you from the wind.
If you’re curious, the radio isn’t much better – the main radio station in the area (also WTMJ) is the main station for the Packers’ radio network, so they have had programming originating from Green Bay over the week, and if they do wind up winning, they’ll have crews heading straight for Phoenix to set up for broadcasts over the next two weeks.
That being said, at least there are times on the radio where you can get away from the sports talk – other stations, and even news talkshows, so it isn’t terribly bad. Of course, there is the option on the TV of switching on other shows on the Pay TV and ignoring the local TV news – which my attitude towards over the last week might just be the only thing colder than the outdoor temperature. 😉
As someone once said about our media – “If the Packers are playing, Chicago could fall off the face of the earth and the first story would still be about the Packers.” I contend that you could add in if there is a chance of an inch or two of snow – because when snow is forecast, there will be someone at a salt pile, and another reporter at a truck stop, showing you how dangerous everything is outside.
They’ll also go to every length to ruin your viewing enjoyment if you’re watching a program in widescreen during severe weather – for some reason only the PBS affiliate (known for being an innovator in HDTV technology) understands that people watching a show in widescreen don’t want it ruined by someone chopping the picture to bits – heck, they even show programming on their analog channels that is in HD or widescreen in its native format, so the picture isn’t re-edited just so it “fits to your TV screen”.
However, that is a rant for another day. 😉