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DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse may be dealing a death blow to local ownership of WBNS-TV.

The satellite and cable television conglomerate has blacked out Channel 10 in a dispute over carriage fees. This had cut access to CBS-TV programs and local news to approximately 20 percent of the 920,000 television households in the Columbus TV market for three weeks by late September with no end in sight as The Columbus Free Press went to press.

Yes, it is possible to view Channel 10 with a digital antenna and some of its programs through the internet, but most viewers will not bother and will watch other channels. This puts Channel 10's No. 1 news rating in jeopardy and may vault Channels 4 or 6 to the top.

Advertisers tend to pay a premium to be on the No. 1 news station in a market. TV ads are sold based on audience size. When audiences are reduced significantly, stations must give either rebates or provide makeup spots. Both remedies are costly to the station.

DirecTV and U-Verse were paying Channel 10 a fee for the privilege of carrying its signal. The blackout puts those payments in jeopardy.

WBNS-TV is one of two stations owned by Dispatch Broadcast Group. The other is WTHR, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, which also has been blacked out.

Small chains have a weak bargaining position against a giant conglomerate because two stations getting dumped makes a small dent in the national reach of DirecTV and U-Verse.

WBNS-TV's rivals in Columbus are owned by giant chains with dozens of affiliates around the country. When Nexstar, that owns Channel 4, and Sinclair, that owns Channels 6 and 28, bargain for carriage fees, they know that pulling their stations would make a big dent across the country. They have the bargaining power that WBNS-TV lacks.

One would expect the Columbus Dispatch to report all this bad news about Channel 10 and its financial repercussions, but since they used to be co-owned and they still have a cozy relationship, the newspaper has provided a whitewashed account of the blackout.

It is fair to speculate that the financial pressure on Dispatch Broadcast Group may result in the sale of the two stations to a big chain, thus ending local ownership of Channel 10.

Footnote: Using the name "Dispatch Broadcast Group" suggests that the TV station and the newspaper are still co-owned, more than two years after the paper was sold. It is way past time to change the name to avoid confusion.

Schools' Grades Reflect Communities, But Teachers Blamed

The latest "evaluations" of K-12 public and charter schools in Ohio are out. The safe, affluent communities with stable families got A's and B's and the less safe, economically challenged communities with less stable families got D's and F's.

It was "nice" of Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio Legislature and the Ohio Board of Education to devise a letter grade system to remind us that schools are a function of the communities they serve.

Of course, the teachers will be blamed.

Kasich and the Legislature's inability to improve the conditions of the challenged communities will, of course, go unreported by the Dispatch and the other largely lapdog mainstream media organizations in Ohio.

Meanwhile, of course, the Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction will get a big raise and attendance and performance-challenged ECOT will continue to receive sweetheart treatment from Kasich and the Legislature and live on, perhaps to suck another $60 million from the state treasury.

My Lt. Gov. Platform Offers Smooth Traveling

Here is the fourth installment of My Platform for the next lieutenant governor:

Tolls for the Ohio Turnpike shall be removed as its founders promised. Northern Ohio's economy is hurt by the tolls on its main east-west thoroughfare compared to central Ohio's free I-70.

No new roads and bridges will be built in Ohio until all existing ones are rebuilt to state of the art.

Vehicle license plates will be cost more for heavier, lower mileage models and less for lighter, higher mileage models.

The U.S. 33 bypass around Nelsonville will be named the Ted Strickland Memorial Highway in honor of the former governor and former congressman from southeast Ohio.

Ohio Political Ranker: Volume 8

Welcome to Volume 8 of the ColumbusMediaInsider Ohio Political Ranker. Each month I will rank the candidates for Ohio governor in 2018. My criteria include: wealth/fund-raising capability (it will take $50 million to win the governorship),
integrity, charisma, name recognition, key issues and appeal to small town/rural voters.


            1-tie. Joe Schiavoni and Nan Whaley. Co-won the first debate.

            3-tie. Betty Sutton and Connie Pillich. Out-debated by the "kids."


            1. Mary Taylor. If Gov. Kasich quits for talk show, she wins as incumbent.

.           2.  Jim Renacci. Street fighter looks good on TV.

            3-tie. Mike DeWine. Jon Husted. Dead heat in soul-selling.

            Gone. J.D. Vance. Movie coming out. Get rich, young hillbilly, get rich.


- If Kasich passes on the running for the U.S. Senate in 2018, he can still keep in the spotlight to run for President in 2020 if he hands a TV talk show gig. He recently asked MSNBC on the air for a job. If our occasional governor goes show biz and turns the governorship over to Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, she would be favorite (see above).

- Mary Yost, soon to be the new editorial page editor of the Dispatch, is more of a PR type than a journalist. Editor Alan Miller wrote that Yost would be an "ambassador" for the newspaper. Enough said.

- Want to know how to vote on Issue 2? Big Pharma is against it, so be for it.

- Half the viewers of HBO's awful Game of Thrones pirate it. You get what you pay for.

- wants to charge for Capitol coverage. How about a pledge drive?


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