Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tip: WUSA-TV saves $500k with one-anchor desk

Regarding more budget cuts in Gannett's 23-station broadcasting division, a reader told me the following about the company's flagship, in Washington, D.C.: "All of Gannett's TV stations are under tremendous pressure to cut salaries and jobs. Graphic artists are out -- master control techs are out -- those tasks are now centralized. Two-person teams of reporters and photojournalists are now replaced by cheap, young people who agree to do both jobs.

"But if you want to see how a station saves some real money, look at the biggest station in the group -- with the biggest payroll. WUSA-TV, Gannett's troubled flagship station in Washington, found a quick and easy way this month to cut another half million bucks from the payroll. Channel 9 did not renew the contract of anchor Todd McDermott. He was not replaced. The 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. newscasts now have only one anchor (all other D.C. stations have anchor teams). Three years ago Todd replaced veteran WUSA anchor Gordon Peterson; it was reported back then that Peterson was making at least a million bucks. Todd was hired at half that salary, but now he's gone, too."

Earlier: Layoffs hit the TV division, too

Has your TV station seen big budget cuts? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.


  1. I've never understood why local TV needs two anchors, typically male-female or - Gannett bonus points here - male-minority female. The networks seem to get by OK with one (see Charlie Gibson, etc.). Our local station has two anchors at 5:30 pm, two different anchors at 6:00 but on Saturday morning, the twenty-something weather girl does it all -- news, sports, weather, pet of the week. Of course, she has to "Happy Talk" to herself, but she gets it done.

    And while we're at it, why does every football broadcast team need the same formula: excitable "voice" (Sean McDonough is excused here), ex-jock and sideline babe. The sideline babes are particulary useless since they all report essentially the same coach cliches.

  2. About time. Two anchors are distracting. Losing one anchor presumably means they also lose the meaningless, trite anchor chit-chat.

  3. We'll see what happens with the ratings. D.C. is a competitive news market that has considerably less happy talk/tabloid nonsense than most major metros. Losing a bunch of ratings points by cutting an anchor is classic penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior -- but, hey, it might have no effect at all.

  4. Is a local anchor, even in one of the largest markets, worth 500K, let alone a million? Is that the top job at a station, or is it comparable to a star reporter?

    Because I doubt any reporter in Gannett's newspaper division makes close to 500K.

  5. They're paid 500k to look good.
    I don't look that good, so I only make 50k.

  6. "I don't look that good, so I only make 50k."
    We're rowing the same boat, 10:56.

  7. I'm a newspaper person, but I think anchors are worth the money. Part of the high price they (used to) command is because they won't jump to another station or quit if you're paying them that much. Viewers like continuity in faces and voices.


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