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Published: 12/14/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

BCSN terminates relationship with WTOL over level of service

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Buckeye CableSystem’s BCSN ended its relationship with WTOL-TV, Channel 11, on Thursday, just one day after WUPW-TV, Channel 36, stopped being broadcast on Buckeye.

Buckeye’s lawyer said WTOL did not fulfill the obligations of its BCSN contract, and the CBS station was warned in June its contract could be terminated if conditions did not improve. WTOL failed to provide the amount of coverage called for under its contract, said Keith Wilkowski, Buckeye’s Toledo lawyer.

“There was supposed to be a set number of hours per week from three of the sports anchors and WTOL was unable to provide those services,” Mr. Wilkowski said. “They consistently failed to achieve the level of services called for by the agreement and that BCSN paid for.”

BCSN, a network exclusive to Buckeye that broadcasts local high school and collegiate sports, will continue to air without WTOL’s sportscasters, Mr. Wilkowski said.

He spoke on behalf of Buckeye and said Brad Mefferd, president and general manager of Buckeye, did not wish to comment Thursday evening.

The value of Buckeye’s contract with WTOL, as well as its specifications, were not made available to The Blade. The letter terminating BCSN’s relationship with WTOL also was not released to The Blade.

Bob Chirdon, station manager of WTOL, declined to comment on the situation and wouldn’t discuss how it could affect sportscasters at the station. Wayne Daugherty, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Raycom Media, owner of WTOL, did not return a phone call or an email from a Blade reporter.

Dan Cummins, sports director of WTOL, did not respond to an email sent Thursday night.

Buckeye CableSystem is owned by Block Communications Inc., parent company of The Blade.

Buckeye is engaged in a legal battle with the owners of WTOL and WUPW over how much it should pay to rebroadcast Channel 36, a Fox station. The new owner of WUPW wants to charge Buckeye more to rebroadcast the station and Buckeye’s officials vehemently disagree.

WUPW and WTOL’s owners claim Buckeye should pay the same rate to rebroadcast the stations because they have a shared-services agreement. That contract allows the two stations to share news staff, access to studios, technical facilities, maintenance, and promotional efforts.

WUPW is at or near the bottom of area Nielsen ratings during most of the station’s daytime and prime-time programming periods. WTOL, however, fares better in the ratings.

Per a demand from Raycom Media, owner of WTOL, and American Spirit Media, owner of WUPW, Buckeye stopped broadcasting Channel 36 at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Mr. Wilkowski said the lawsuit and BCSN issue have nothing to do with each other and are separate matters.

“The failure to deliver these services was a clear breach of the agreement, and I do believe that they are separate issues, and it does not stem from the other,” Mr. Wilkowski said.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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