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Shame On You!

It’s sweeps month! How low can local TV news go?

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November 3 marked the beginning of the traditional ad-rate-determining “sweeps period.” And even though continuously monitoring People Meters are now used locally, there’s still “definitely a focus on this time of year,” says Bill McFarland, assistant news director at WABC-TV. Which means they pull out all the stops. “Have you spoken to Channel 2 about their dirty-underwear story?” asks Lew Leone, general manager of Fox 5, speaking of a “Shame on You” exposé about the ability to return used underwear to Victoria’s Secret. One of his competitors carps about how “there was some promo on Fox a couple years ago about the president’s daughter . . . naked! It turned out to be a segment about the naked parties at Yale, and they asked a guy if he’d seen Barbara Bush at one. He says, ‘No,’ and they freeze the shot, and the reporter says, ‘He hasn’t . . . but look at that face!’ As if the kid was lying.” So what works? “I can tell you what [WCBS news director] Dianne Doctor’s theory is,” says Leone. “Pain works. Back pain, head pain, neck pain. I’m stealing that.”


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