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Salzman: Several Channels, But Only 2 Choices


KBDI's variety of public affairs programs clearly superior to duplicative newscasts

You may think Denver has seven choices in local TV news/public affairs programs in the evening (channels 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 31), but I see only two choices.

One choice is the commercial stations (channels 2, 4, 7, 9 and 31). If you flip from one local evening newscast to another, you'll enter a zone where they all begin to look the same. Nice anchors. Mean criminals. Another animal on the loose. Up next, the five-day forecast.

And you may ask yourself, is there any difference? I say, not all that much.

All the stations use the same bottom line-driven formula. A bit more than a third of the newscast is "news," about a third is commercials, and a little less than a third is weather and sports combined.

The commercial stations have their value, for sure, with excellent crisis coverage and some great investigative and spot-news reporting, but the day-to-day meat of the shows is narrow (with a huge news emphasis on crime and disaster) and entertainment-oriented.

The other choice is public TV (channels 6 and 12).

They both produce talk shows analyzing local issues, but KBDI-Channel 12 is clearly superior in local public affairs.

KBDI offers eight different weekly shows on local issues with perspectives from across the political spectrum. My favorites are Colorado Inside Out (Friday, 8 p.m.), which is Denver's only TV call-in show, the Aaron Harber Show (Friday, 9 p.m.), Colorado Inside Out Live! (Wednesday, 8 p.m.) and Global Agenda (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.).

Among the local stations, Channel 12 is the place to find election-season debates and analysis.

Too many people think channels 6 and 12 are identical, but they're vastly different.

Channel 12's specialty is local public affairs programming.

KRMA-Channel 6 carries only one local public affairs show in its lineup, which is heavy on national public affairs programming and feature-type productions.

Jason Salzman, president of Cause Communications and board chairman of Rocky Mountain Media Watch, is the author of Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits.

This column is reprinted courtesy of the Rocky Mountain News.

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