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.