Football And Justice

No, we’re not writing about Adrian Peterson. The title just happens to be our two subjects for this update…

BROWNS TO 5: For those used to watching Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 for your preseason Cleveland Browns fix, starting next year…you’ll have to “Catch 5”.

Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 will become the Browns’ “TV and digital partner” starting with the 2015 season.

From a release out of 3001 Euclid:

“Our consistent goal is to continually communicate with our fans and connect with them in unique ways,” said Alec Scheiner, president of the Cleveland Browns. “We are excited about this partnership with WEWS and this new opportunity to give our fans inside access to the players and organization throughout the entire year. Along with their talented production team, we look forward to continuing to produce exceptional preseason game broadcasts and year-long weekly programming that will offer our fans in-depth Browns content.”

“As the first TV station in Cleveland, NewsChannel 5 is incredibly proud to partner with one of the most iconic sports franchises in the country,” said Ed Fernandez, divisional general manager of Scripps. “As the new official TV and digital partner of the Cleveland Browns, we promise to provide our audiences with a 52-week, multi-platform experience so they can get closer to the team they love the most.”

So, what happened?

Let’s check in with 13th and Lakeside, courtesy of Plain Dealer TV writer Mark Dawidziak

“It’s just a matter of the Browns having a certain business plan that I could not agree to,” said Brooke Spectorsky, Channel 3’s president and general manager. “It’s not any more complex than that. They wanted a complete change in the business arrangement, and I didn’t feel what they were proposing was a good, fair relationship.”

Spectorsky would not get any more specific about the details of the negotiations, but when asked if it came down to money, he said, “That’s what it boils down to.”

Or, “it’s all about the Benjamins”, and we’re not talking about Travis here.

And then, there’s that “year-round programming”. How much of it will be team-produced?

And we assume the team liked the digital component at 3001 Euclid, with things like the weekly “Dawgs on the Run” online videocast already established.

And…who calls the preseason games?

With WKYC sports director (and Browns radio voice) Jim Donovan presumably on the outside looking in, does the early money go with his counterpart at WEWS, sports director Andy Baskin?

Baskin, of course, also works at Browns FM flagship CBS Radio sports WKRK/92.3 “The Fan”…where his midday co-host Jeff Phelps handled the Browns radio call in preseason when Donovan was in the TV booth.

And will former Browns radio sideline reporter Andre Knott, a regular “NewsChannel 5” sports anchor substitute and contributor, return to the sidelines on the WEWS-produced preseason games next year?

We have more questions than answers right now, as some of these decisions (if not all of them) have yet to be made.

But a reminder we’re sure the folks at Reserve Square would pass along: the TV partner contract with WEWS only covers preseason games and other programming.

Due to its affiliation with CBS, Raycom Media’s WOIO/19 gets the bulk of in-season Browns broadcasts…give or take a couple of games per year broadcast on Fox (WJW/8) due to that network’s package covering games involving NFC road teams.

“Cleveland’s CBS 19” actually had the preseason TV package before WKYC, until a poor “19 Action News” decision involving former owner Randy Lerner’s family torched that contract before it ended…

AND JUSTICE: We already knew that WKYC owner Gannett was a partner in the new “Justice Network” digital subchannel…and now it’s confirmed that “Justice” is coming to Cleveland.

WKYC senior director and blogging colleague Frank Macek has more on his “Director’s Cut” page.

First, from the initial press release…what is “Justice Network” all about?

Veteran television executives are joining forces to launch Justice Network, a free over-the-air multicast network with carriage on MSO’s, featuring gripping stories of true crime and aiming to make communities safer by empowering viewers to take action. Working in partnership with Crime Stoppers USA, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and other law enforcement agencies, the Justice Network will dedicate 90 seconds to public service every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This includes: 30 seconds to “Bad Person of the Week”, :30 seconds to help locate missing children, and :30 seconds to providing viewers with invaluable safety tips.

For all the high minded Public Service talk, “Justice Network”‘s main mission is as Destination One for fans of True Crime TV:

Justice Network programming will include series such as, Body of Evidence, Masterminds, The Investigators, Psychic Detectives, I, Detective, LA Forensics, Missing Persons Unit, Murder by the Book, Parco P.I., Locked Up Abroad, Alaska State Troopers, Extreme Evidence, North Mission Road, Haunting Evidence, Over the Limit and Dominick Dunne’s Power Privilege and Justice. 

And yes, the new network displaces WKYC’s weather radar subchannel, Macek writes:

Justice Network will replace our existing weather radar on 3.2 and some children’s programming right after the first of the year. WKYC Station Manager Micki Byrnes, says the station is working hard on other options to bring viewers the weather information they depend on that keep you “Weather Ready” at all times.

Presumably online…as WKYC’s nightly 9 PM weather videocast has also never appeared on 3.2. (And the required children’s “E/I” programming will have to continue on 3.2 post-“Justice”…that’s an FCC requirement not tied to the actual content on the channel.)


  1. I can’t see Jim moving away from 3 to Join 5 solely for the Browns.

  2. First the Live Well Network and now the radar….gone. Like we need more crime programs. It isn’t bad enough have the network evening schedule is about dead people with all of the alphabet programs (NCIS, SVU).

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