Home Miami TV WTVJ Gets a Piece of Sky 10

WTVJ Gets a Piece of Sky 10


The WTVJ boss people have decided it’s time to cough up some money and get the station helicopter video. WTVJ has joined the news helicopter sharing agreement WFOR and WPLG have had since 1/1/2010 to share Sky 10. So now, Sky 20 as it is affectionately called (get it? 4+6+10), will pipe video to WTVJ, WSCV, WFOR and WPLG , each of which will refer to it as their own helicopter on the air. No details on whether WTVJ crews have any say as far as where the chopper goes or what gets covered.

Not sure what prompted this. Is it because WTVJ revenues are improving? Or perhaps because the rash of recent car chases in the area left WTVJ with no video, prompting MSNBC to ask WSVN for permission to use their Skyforce feed?

Speaking of WSVN, they are now the only news shop in town to have their own news helicopter full-time!¬†However, if BIA Advertising’s estimates which put the station’s earnings some $20 million dollars ahead of second place WPLG, 7¬†can probably afford it and have enough to spare.

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  1. You clearly have no idea how much it costs to run a helicopter (lease) per budget year. You write as if it’s 25 cents an hour to run one. No Way. Big $$$ there. It could be the same as 10-15 employees!

    Keep in mind those would be 10-15 full-time employees yielding 400-600 work hours a day.

    A heli flies maybe 4-5 hours a day, max.

    Again…4 and 6 cut the bird when budgets were crushed in 07 08 09…revenue down, resources down.

    This is an easy, smart way to get back in the game with heli video…without paying the full cost of admission.

    If 7 did the same thing, maybe they would have some extra money to actually PAY some of their employees. Having a station helicopter is about the only thing 7 is NOT cheap on.

    • Actually, I have a pretty good idea how much a station helicopter costs to rent – it’s a $1million per year give or take. The station buys a fixed amount of time per month anything over it and they start to pay by the hour. At least that’s how the agreement for Sky10 between WPLG and WFOR worked when it started.

      The reality is our stations can each afford a helicopter, they just choose not to, except 7 which for whatever reason thinks there is value in having one all to themselves and also pay Metro Traffic for video from The Yellow Bird and for Steven J Gray to file traffic reports and breaking news. Difference is WSVN (all 4 stations according to the BIA/Kelsey info I’ve seen make $50+ million a year) isn’t accountable to investors while all the other stations are owned by publicly traded companies that need to show profits and cut expenses.

    • Ch 7 doesn’t pay their employees? Hmmm. You sound like a whiner. Maybe you should of prepared yourself for a higher paying job than the one you have.

      Maybe Ch7 doesn’t always pay as much as other stations, but then again they are the only station not to have laid off any employees. Their jobs are far more secure than at 4,6 and 10. Better to have a job at WSVN then be part of the army of unemployed media types in SFL.

      Maybe Ch7 sees value in its chopper. They can make their own editorial decisions without having to consult their competitors on whether or not they can cover a news story. Sounds smart to me.

      You said, “Keep in mind those would be 10-15 full-time employees yielding 400-600 work hours a day.”

      Maybe so, but unless any of them have wings and can fly while holding a camera steady it doesn’t matter how many extra work hours they can put in. None of them can perform they duty of a helicopter.

  2. I take it that WTVJ and WSCV (owned by NBC) is finally deciding to play along with WPLG (owned by Post-Newsweek) and WFOR (owned by CBS). NBC, Post-Newsweek, and CBS sharing news chopper video… don’t know if the 3 are considering sharing non-exclusive news videos.

    I remember NBC and FOX starting up the LNS (Local News Service) experiment with its Philly stations WCAU and WTXF. Other NBC and FOX O&O markets followed (N.Y.C., L.A., Chicago, D.F.W., and D.C.). I believe CBS and Tribune stations in N.Y.C., L.A., Chicago, and D.F.W. joined in with the existing LNS’. FOX teaming up with Scripps in Phoenix, Detroit, and Tampa Bay. Gannett joined the D.C., Phoenix, and Tampa Bay LNS’. FOX and CBS in Boston were planning a LNS, which got halted suddenly. I believe Atlanta and Orlando briefly experimented with the LNS. I don’t know if other local TV markets were exploring LNS plans.

  3. This is a major problem in local news. If stations start using each other’s resources to cover stories, it means there are fewer options. Also, Channel 7 doesn’t pay well. Lowest paying int he market. Reporters there are lucky to make $40,000. In a market like Miami, reporters should be getting $90,000 or more. 7 also has a cap on anchor salaries. Craig and Belkys make around $300 each. Jackie Nespral makes over $500 thousand and Laurie makes around $750 at 10. Big difference. But, you can also tell by the reporters at 7 that thy are fresh out of college and not worth that much. I give exception to people like Derick Hayward and a few others. They may be worth more if they weren’t convicted drunk drivers and drug users.

    • michael james: you’re pretty wrong as far as salaries. reporters at 7 make well over $40k.. and very few of them are “fresh out of college.” while there are exceptions, most have worked at at least one other market before coming here. you should check your facts before you report them as such.

  4. Channel 7 is place to go get experience and exposure (if you’re a reporter) then you move on. Most writers, video editors and some producers work part time only at like 12 bucks an hour. I guess that’s okay for someone fresh out of college, but if you have experince 3-5 years, you need to seek a better paying job at an other station in town or you will starve.


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