KLAS, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, produced a sales presentation video, May Client Presentation, to tell advertisers about its performance in May and throughout the year and posted it to YouTube. I saw the video on my Facebook feed. The hosts in the video are KLAS’ Emmy-winning news anchors Paul Joncich and Denise Valdez, […]
KLAS, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, produced a sales presentation video, May Client Presentation, to tell advertisers about its performance in May and throughout the year and posted it to YouTube. I saw the video on my Facebook feed.
The hosts in the video are KLAS’ Emmy-winning news anchors Paul Joncich and Denise Valdez, although neither ever identifies themselves. The highly-produced video is powerful and convincing. It not only touts the merits of KLAS’ broadcast performance but also its digital properties as well — most unique visitors on its website, most followers on Facebook and the growing reach on its digital channels and apps.
The video is well-done graphically and includes mentions of CBS’s upcoming NFL Thursday Night Football in the fall. It’s not unlike sales presentation videos I’ve seen TV stations do, except for one 25-second part starting at 2:35 when the news anchors seem to speak directly to potential advertisers.
Denise Valdez: “We’re suggesting you get your orders in right now.”
Paul Joncich: “Seriously, this isn’t a sales ploy although it does help. Spots are going fast both in football and out. You don’t want to wait for any last minute deals because, well, there won’t be any. CBS prime will be the safest marketing bet you can make for your third and fourth quarters, so don’t run the risk of finding we’re sold out.”
I’m not an expert on journalistic ethics, so I reached out to two industry experts.
I asked Al Tompkins, senior faculty for broadcast and online at the Poynter Institute and Mike Cavender, the executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, if either thought the segment crossed any ethical lines.
“The anchors are the face of the station. Anchors commonly appear as spokespeople for stations.
“The only product they are endorsing is the station. I have never seen a similar example of anchors urging advertisers to BUY NOW before ads are sold out. But it seems more like a matter of taste than ethical breach to me.”
“This video was produced for the station’s annual or semi-annual presentation to local media buyers … rather than as any kind of a promo for wider distribution. It has long been commonplace for stations to use their on-air talent (often their primary team — as is the case here) to front the presentations on the assumption that the local buyers and advertisers are more likely to “connect” with established market talent.
“I’ve seen a number of similar presentations where anchors conclude with ‘soft sell’ lines like the ones here. Not to exactly equate these kinds of sales presentations with other activities in which on-air talent is sometimes engaged, such as telethons, fund drives (in the case of public stations) and other such activities of a similar nature, it is clear that the folks ‘out front’ at a TV station are valuable to the business and to achieving the station’s goals at many levels. Sales pitches by them come in all shapes and sizes.
“Our Code of Ethics doesn’t address this particular issue specifically — it does say (under Integrity) that ‘Professional electronic journalists should not engage in activities that may compromise their integrity or independence.’
“I don’t think there’s a ‘bright line’ here, given the broad nature of this and similar presentations (as opposed to something that is directly aimed at an individual sponsor or advertiser, which could raise questions of influence).”
I asked KLAS Creative Services Director Henry Vazquez for a station response and he wrote:
“We update our established clients with these videos after every sweeps period. We focus these videos on issues pertinent to our clients.
“We had a great book, and we have a lot to crow about. We are now No. 1 by a wide margin, winning 17 of the 24 hours. For the first time in decades, we are No. 1 straight through from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., except for 30 minutes when network news airs. It’s causing inventory to tighten up. And that deserved mention in this go-around.
“We are always careful that our anchors not get involved in individual sales efforts.”
Vazquez also tried to prevent us from posting the promo, even though it had been uploaded to YouTube in an embeddable video player. It’s on YouTube for the convenience of KLAS’s sales team, he said, and “we cannot permit you to display it in any fashion.”
I told Vazquez that that’s not our understanding of how YouTube works. My editor, Harry Jessell, points to Paragraph 6, Subparagraph C of the YouTube Terms of Service: “You [uploaders] … hereby grant each user of the service a non-exclusive license to access your content through the service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such content as permitted through the functionality of the service and under these Terms of Service. ”
In your opinion, did KLAS go too far in using its two news anchors in promoting sales at its station?