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Josh Benson

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WFOR CBS4 CBS Miami

417957_10200782769752233_1872563665_nAfter an exhaustive three-month search WFOR/CBS have finally settled on a replacement for Josh Benson.

The station announced just a few minutes ago they hired Walter Makaula as the new CBS4 News This Morning co-anchor. He comes from San Diego’s Tribune-owned FOX 5 (KSWB) where he currently anchors weekend evenings. And if you thought his last name might seem interesting that’s because Makaula is a native of Hawaii. Prior to KSWB he anchored weekdays evenings at KHNL NBC, and before that reported for KGMB the CBS station in Honolulu.

“Walter is a multi-talented broadcaster who is equally skilled as a breaking news anchor and as a storyteller who reports on captivating human interest stories. We’re thrilled to have him join our team,” CBS4 Vice President/General Manager Adam Levy said.

Look for Walter Makaula on CBS4 News This Morning January 13, 2014

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WFOR CBS4 CBS Miami

Josh Benson could be lawyering up soon, according to GossipExtra citing WFOR insiders. Benson allegedly “refused to resign quietly” and was bounced by management last Friday. We think it has to do with his review of Aereo, even though the station denies it. In a previous report GossipExtra reports Benson was canned because he was difficult to work with and upper management weren’t big fans of his.

Either way WFOR may soon have to juggle negative publicity in addition to it’s continued ratings trouble, especially with November sweeps right around the corner

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WFOR CBS4 CBS Miami

Josh Benson WFOR CBS4 morning anchor. CBS MiamiOn Sunday SFLTV first broke the news WFOR fired Josh Benson allegedly because of his review of Aereo. This prompted the station to email us an official statement saying Benson was fired “for his operation of a personal website that streamed the station’s newscasts without the knowledge and consent of the station”. If you’re a tech geek you will be forgiven if you thought right away that Benson plugged his cable box into his internet connection and broadcast CBS4 all day long on Ustream. That does not seem to be the case.

Now here’s why SFLTV thinks Josh Benson’s review of Aereo had everything to do with his firing, and why CBS and WFOR are probably full of you know what when it comes to the their excuse about why they canned him.

josh.benson.cbs4.player

This is screenshot from a cached version of the page or post Benson published about the CBS4 live stream. It shows that he embedded the CBS4 video player from WFOR’s website on his page. The embed code is clearly visible in the player, and is available to anyone who wants to use it on their website. Like this.

Josh Benson’s post with the embedded CBS4 video player had been up for at least two months, going back as early as July. I didn’t think to look up his old tweets to see whether he tweeted that link out or not but regardless, it had been there for a long while. And as already established he was embedding the station’s video player, something anyone can do.

josh.benson.aereo.3rd.tweet

Sometime on the evening of August 29 Josh Benson tweets he is watching CBS4 news using Aereo, the streaming service that rents people an over-the-air antenna and a DVR. It’s backed by billionaire Barry Diller, and CBS boss Les Moonves hates it so much he’s suing (and losing) to stop it. No cable contract says Benson, whose employer, and WFOR owner CBS, was in the middle of a bitter battle all trough out  August with Time Warner Cable, demanding the cable company’s customers pay CBS $2/month just for the local CBS-owned TV station. Which people can get free with an over-the-air antenna.

josh.benson.aereo.1st.tweet

But then, a bit later on August 29th at 6:44:08 pm Josh Benson tweets for the first time his review of Aereo. In January 2013 during CES, CBS prevented its parent company CNET from awarding Aereo their Best of CES 2013 award at the last minute. It also forbade CNET journalists from reviewing the service. The network didn’t back out of its decision even as the tech media pounced and thousands of negative comments followed, many questioning CNET’s editorial integrity.

josh.benson.aereo.2nd.tweetOn August 30th at 05:34:43am Josh Benson tweets his Aereo review again, this time while at work anchoring the morning news.

Later that day while driving home from work, as GossipExtra reports, WFOR management called Benson back to the station and fired him after he allegedly “refused to resign quietly”.

WFOR’s official story is that they fired their main morning anchor, the man who is part of the “fastest growing morning newscast”, because he streamed the station’s newscasts without permission using the video embed code the station makes freely available to anyone. And it just so happens one day after said morning anchor publishes a glowing review of CBS and Les Monves arch nemesis Aereo.

 

 

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WFOR CBS4 CBS Miami

Josh Benson WFOR CBS4 morning anchor. CBS Miami

 

 

 

 

Update: Here’s the official statement from WFOR to SFLTV:

WFOR-TV has terminated the employment of Josh Benson for his operation of a personal website that streamed the station’s newscasts without the knowledge and consent of the station.

I asked for more information, and whether Benson’s firing really had nothing to do with his review of Aereo, the reply I received was:

Correct – It has nothing to do with Aereo. We stand by the statement

And there you have it. You can choose whether to believe the WFOR or not. It just strikes me as a bit… harsh… to fire your leading man on the spot, and break up the team that’s holding up the only newscast you have that’s doing well. Don’t you think?

The first time Josh Benson tweeted his review of Aereo, on his personal website, was at 6:44pm on August 29th. He did it again the next day, on August 30 at 5:34:43 am, while he was at work. It is possible WFOR or CBS management went to check his Aereo review, and then came across the live streaming link for CBS4 newscasts. But then Benson had been streaming the CBS4 newscasts  since at least July of this year – and it’s not known whether he simply embedded the video from WFOR’s website or if he streamed right from his home via something like Ustream. The reason why I think there’s more to this story is because CBS employed the scorched earth approach when CNET was about to give Aereo their CES 2013 award, and the network didn’t flinch at the tsunami or criticism they got on tech blogs.

WFOR fired morning anchor Josh Benson on Friday. The sudden firing of an anchor who leads the only newscast that does well in ratings is suspicious to say the least. And even though everyone is avoiding talking about what happened, SFLTV knows the alleged reason Benson was shown the door.

Allegedly, WFOR/CBS fired Josh Benson because he wrote a review of Aereo that he published on his personal website. He also mentioned Aereo several times on Twitter and seemed to be liking the service. Benson has since removed his Twitter account, and his personal site is down as well.

WFOR owner CBS has been involved in a very bitter battle against Aereo for some time now, without much success. The network famously forbade staffers of its subsidiary CNET, from awarding Aereo their Best of Award at CES 2013.

Josh Benson joined WFOR last year from WFTV in Orlando, replacing Jawan Strader who left for WTVJ

 

 

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WFOR CBS4 CBS Miami

Summer Knowles WFOR CBS 4 MiamiWFOR have added a third anchor to their weekday morning newscast. Summer Knowles is now part of the morning anchor team although she doesn’t sit permanently with Rhiannon and Josh, they have her reading the Top Stories and some of the other reports and segments. Knowles joined CBS 4 last year from KSLA, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport, LA where she anchored the morning and noon shows so she’s not new to anchoring.

And if it strikes you as interesting, it should. I guess. Some insiders see the move as copying WPLG who added MJ Acosta in March and then gave her similar duties on their morning program not long after. Reasoning aside, CBS4′s morning news actually do well in ratings, well enough that during May sweeps one SFLTV tipster confided their station was “sweating bullets” over how strong channel 4 was performing in the mornings.