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Muzzled KGMB-TV execs cannot discuss branding


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POSTED: Thursday, October 22, 2009

KGMB-TV executives who were prepared to reveal new branding and other information about combining some of the station's operations with KHNL/KFVE-TV were muzzled “;at the 13th hour,”; President and General Manager Rick Blangiardi said yesterday.

Blangiardi, News Director Chris Archer and Marketing Director Candace Hirleman were invited to the monthly luncheon of the Public Relations Society of America Hawaii Chapter, and it seemed initially the timing would be perfect to reveal the new branding of the stations and more information.

However, “;our lawyers at this point in time are restricting us from going forward with any conversations regarding the proposed transaction,”; Blangiardi said.

Archer and Hirleman were married at Blangiardi's home last summer and Archer joked, “;Candace and I don't even talk at home. Not until Raycom will let us,”; drawing a laugh from the crowd.

Hirleman, a marketer by trade and seemingly by nature, said, “;I'm like the bubbly in the champagne bottle right now and I just want it open (making a wide sweeping motion with both arms) and tell you all, so the day that I can, I assure you that I will. We all will. We'll be screaming from the mountaintops.”;

An “;incredible reversal of fortune”; in the advertising-revenue-fed broadcast industry is the “;genesis of the shared services agreement,”; Blangiardi explained.

Without disclosing a figure, he said that based on third-quarter projections, annual revenue is expected to mirror “;revenue that was in this market back in the early '80s and maybe late '70s.”;

The business model has changed since then.

“;People forget the news coming on at 10:10 (p.m., because commercials were stuffed into valuable prime-time shows).”; The station back then could “;still get $1.5 million from CBS in New York for being their network affiliate, (and) we weren't paying for things like the NFL or March Madness or a lot of other issues,”; he said.

Archer told of a difficult past two months, laying off dozens of employees after “;one-on-one sit-downs”; with each person at each station and huddling to assemble the surviving employee roster. “;There were really no easy decisions.”;

A picture of many of the new news employees was displayed on a screen.

“;When it comes to ... looking forward at what we can do, I'm excited,”; he said.

Meanwhile, back at Media Council Hawaii, the watchdog organization has lashed back at the station owners' filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

“;Despite the bravado of their responses, they do not show that our facts were wrong, and in fact they strengthen our case that Raycom will control all three stations,”; said council President Christopher Conybeare.

Raycom Media Inc. and MCG Capital Corp.'s responses, also filed with the FCC, “;reveal that MCG will have only two employees, General Manager John Fink and another employee. Although they will be paid by MCG, Raycom will reimburse MCG for their salaries and other expenses,”; Conybeare said.

The media council has asked the FCC to block the shared services agreement, alleging it violates several broadcast regulations and may violate antitrust laws as well.

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).