The long wait is finally over for local AT&T/DirecTV customers — WPMI and WJTC are back on the system, ending a six-month blackout.
Viewers welcomed the stations back to their carriers this past week, and it was the first “Sunday Night Football” of the season that didn’t require an antenna to watch. The return is the result of a consent agreement AT&T reached with four stations owned by Deerfield Media. Besides our locals, those also included KBTV, a Fox affiliate in Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas and WSTR, a MyNetwork TV affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio.
WPMI/WJTC are part of a duopoly owned by Deerfield Media, and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns Pensacola’s ABC affiliate WEAR, operates the stations as part of a local marketing agreement.
The four stations that came back on AT&T’s network last week were part of a group of 17 that were blacked out at the end of May due to contract negotiation problems. The other 13 worked out their issues in October.
While viewers have been able to pick up the stations via antenna, both sides of the dispute appear to have suffered from the impasse. Nationwide, AT&T lost millions of subscribers during long contract disputes with these and other broadcast groups, while individual stations suffered ratings losses.
Call News sees small paid circulation decline
The Citronelle Call News’ annual U.S. Postal Service Ownership Statement indicates the north Mobile County weekly continues to see a decline in paid circulation four years after reporting a nearly miraculous 300-percent explosion readership.
The Call News’ latest Ownership Statement listed an average paid circulation of 16,207 for 2019, down from last year’s average of 16,772. The change of 565 is just a 3 percent decrease, but is still trending down from the paper’s claimed paid circulation of 20,780 in 2015.
The Call News had reported a paid circulation of 5,150 in 2014 and 2013 as well, but claimed a 15,630 paid circulation increase on average in October 2015 — an increase of 303 percent. But ever since that practically unheard of increase in paid circulation over such a short span, the paper’s subsequent Ownership Statements had shown it losing circulation each year.
Given this latest decline, the Call News is now down an average of 4,573 papers per week, according to its Ownership Statement, a federal document that carries fines and penalties if filled out with false or misleading information. That means the paper’s paid circulation has fallen 22 percent in four years, according to the documents Publisher Willie Gray submitted to the U.S.P.S. The amount of circulation it’s lost since 2015 is nearly as large as the total circulation reported in 2014.
Black Friday boost
Letters went out last week from Alabama Media Group informing vendors the Black Friday edition of the Press-Register would be bumped from its normal $3 price to $5.
According to the letter, demand for the issue is 120 percent of a typical daily, justifying the added expense. The paper announced in late September that weekday copies of the paper were increasing from $1.50 to $2.
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