By: Dave Astor
A Tribune Media Services (TMS) executive told E&P Friday that he expects the company’s TV listings division to return to “full operations by the end of this evening” following Wednesday night’s fire
Jay Fehnel, vice president for entertainment products at TMS, noted that the Glens Falls, N.Y.-based division has been running extra shifts to get clients the TV information they need. Fehnel declined to give the number of clients TMS has, but said the syndicate provides listings to “most U.S. newspapers.”
Wednesday’s fire broke out in an electrical closet on the 10th floor of a Glens Falls building, in which the TV listings operation occupies the sixth and seventh floors. So there was no damage on the TMS floors.
But only a few of the 180 TMS staffers who usually work in the CNA Building are allowed back in at this point; the rest have temporarily set up shop in another Glens Falls building used by TMS.
Fehnel noted that staffers can remotely operate the computers in the CNA Building. Those computers have been powered by back-up generators since TMS got the OK to turn on the generators Thursday at 3:20 p.m. eastern time. Fehnel said TMS doesn’t know how long the generators will have to be used or when all 180 TV listings staffers can move back into the CNA Building.
TMS managers and staffers have had training in dealing with emergency situations, said Fehnel, so they knew how to keep operations going after Wednesday’s fire.
What percentage of clients had their TV listings delayed because of the fire? Fehnel said he didn’t know, but did add: “Many of our clients didn’t notice any difference in their normal production schedules.” For one thing, most newspapers had received their Thursday listings before the blaze broke out.
Among the newspapers that did experience a delay was The Oregonian of Portland. Stan Horton, the paper’s TV editor, said the paper usually receives listings for its 36-page Sunday TV book by 5 or 6 a.m. on Thursdays. This week, the listings arrived more than 13 hours later — at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. But Horton noted that the paper still made its Sunday TV book deadline, which is 4 a.m. on Fridays.
“Last night was a long night,” said Horton, when contacted by E&P. “But emergencies go with the territory.”
If The Oregonian had received the Sunday TV book listings after the Friday 4 a.m. deadline, said Horton, the paper would have tried to find another open time on its presses. And if the listings hadn’t come in at all, The Oregonian might have run a note in its Sunday edition saying the listings hadn’t arrived.
Horton reported that The Oregonian — as of 9:30 a.m. Pacific time today — was waiting for its Saturday and Monday listings from TMS. “I’m confident that we’re going to get them,” he said, adding sympathetically that he “can imagine the pressure” TMS is facing to satisfy all its clients after the fire.
The Oregonian editor observed that most newspapers have no alternative but to depend on TMS or other (smaller) TV listings companies. “TV listings are so complicated now that [almost] no newspapers can do them on their own,” said Horton.