Spending 'More' airtime begs questions for Fox-5


More, More, "More."

How do you like it? How do you like it?

Couldn't resist referencing porn princess-turned-disco diva Andrea True's 1976 dance-club hit (yes, she sang "Get the cameras rollin', get the action goin' ") and the soundtrack of my college years so useful on date nights (hey, it was the '70s).

To the point: More "More" arrives at Fox-5 Monday when a 4 p.m. weekday edition of the entertainment/lifestyle hour debuts to bookend the 9 a.m. original, hosted by the morning version's Rachel Smith, along with Arran Andersen, an ex-Reno/Sacramento sports anchor. "That's our big project," says program coordinator Leilani Molinaro. "We're focusing more on local content."

Additionally, the New York-based "Better" at 10 a.m. will now include two four-minute Fox-5 inserts, which doesn't quite justify its new, localized "Better Las Vegas" title, but does sew up nearly 91/2 hours of local weekday programming -- 5-11 a.m., and 4-6 and 10-11:30 p.m. -- tops among Vegas stations.

More "More" makes fiscal sense as it's less expensive to produce themselves than purchasing syndicated shows. But beyond a second serving of celeb souffle, what will an afternoon "More" cook up? Says marketing/entertainment programming director Terri Peck: "We'll be more creative with sponsorships and find different ways of doing product placement in this show." ... Oy.

Therein, the conundrum: Build on their personality to entertain viewers or bend to their advertisers to hustle viewers? Obviously, both. But earning those extra ad bucks comes at a different kind of price. The credibility kind.

Arguably the most personable Vegas station, Fox-5's crew is salted with some mixed nuts -- Dave Hall, Heidi Hayes, Jason Feinberg, Monica Jackson, Rachel Smith, Mike Doria, Amy Carabba, Claudine Grant, et al. -- offering a savvy alternative to the newsy gravitas of the "Action"/"Eyewitness"/"Dig Deeper" brigade. Now Fox-5 is even better positioned to connect with Las Vegans on an engaging, personal level.

Such a shame if they endanger that advantage by slipping in more infomercials -- as the morning edition already does, labeled with disclaimers, but slicked up like stories to pass as show segments -- that won't con most viewers, likely annoy many, squander good will and test the trust they invest in news programming, be it soft, hard or otherwise.

Stations are in business to make bucks and budgets are seriously strained in this economy as execs scramble for new revenue streams, understandably so. Infomercials already gobble up two hours each weekday and much of weekend mornings on Fox-5.

But this is a station gaining a significant edge with a burgeoning Vegas presence infused with a bright, inviting vibe -- a concept worth increasing, not imperiling.

Cut us some slack, guys. Weighing entertainment vs. advertisements, consider us when asking yourselves:

More, More, "More" ... of what? And how will we like it? How will we like it?

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

 

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