Big Day Looms for MaineToday Media
Black Friday: It appears that some significant changes are coming to MaineToday Media – owner of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel – on Dec. 23. But it may be a few days after that before we find out what they are.
According to several sources, both inside and outside the company, MaineToday and its largest union, the Portland Newspaper Guild, plan to make an announcement on Friday, just as most of the state’s news organizations are shutting down for the long holiday weekend. The timing seems intended to reduce the impact of whatever they have to say.
Several sources say there have been serious discussions about an employee buyout of the company, but the hang up seems to be financing. With MTM struggling to pay its bills, attracting investors would appear to be difficult.
One possibility offered by someone with knowledge of the negotiations: The current owners will finance the deal because it may be the only way they’ll be able to get out of MaineToday without taking a bath.
We’ll find out on the 23rd if there’s any truth to that.
Missed bet: The Dec. 18 Maine Sunday Telegram story by staff writer Edward D. Murphy was lengthy and detailed concerning the uncertain future faced by Scarborough Downs racetrack. But there was also a glaring omission in Murphy’s reporting that appears to skew the article.
The piece devotes a lot of column inches to the plight of the harness racing facility in the wake of the latest failure to win approval of a law allowing a racino with slot machines at the track. There are lots of statistics showing that the handle – the amount bet on races – has declined steadily for years. And the story contains impassioned pleas from a variety of people with a stake in the Downs’ future to allow slots at the track.
Murphy apparently accepts as fact the contention that the addition of other gambling options would increase betting on horse races.
If that’s true, there’s a simple way to demonstrate it. Just check with Bangor Raceway, which has an affiliated racino (soon to be a full-fledged casino) next door. Has the handle there gone up since the slot facility opened?
Murphy never bothers to tell his readers.
Was that an oversight? Or was it because the whole argument for slots at Scarborough Downs – that more people will bet on the races – collapses if that hasn’t been the case in Bangor?
More HD: According to a sharp-eyed observer at the Radio-Info.com New England TV discussion board, WGME-TV in Portland has finally gone high definition. Channel 13 was beaten in the HD race earlier this year by rival WCSH in Portland and WABI in Bangor, but appears to be the first to offer the improved picture not only from its studio, but also for live reports from the field.
More power: Community station WMPG (90.9 FM) in Portland has finally increased its signal strength. The station switched on its new transmitter on Dec. 14 and will be testing it at less than full power for a period of time, as mandated by the FCC. But by early next year, WMPG’s eclectic programming should be available to a much wider audience, when the signal is permanently boosted from 1,100 watts to 4,500.
That much-anticipated improvement raised an interesting question for one poster on the Radio-Info.com northern New England discussion board: What should be done with WMPG’s other signal at 104.1 FM? It currently carries the same programming as the main frequency, but with the power boost is largely redundant. The poster suggests it’s time to consider making better use of those airwaves.
Slow getting through the wire: The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s new news service, the Maine Wire, seems to have a bigger problem to overcome than its right-wing ideological bent. Its posting of news stories is way behind everybody else.
For instance, the Wire didn’t have a story on the legislative public hearings on budget cuts at the state Department of Health and Human Services until well into the morning of the second day of testimony, nearly twenty-four hours behind everybody else.
That might have been excusable if it had come up with some stuff the mainstream media missed. But it didn’t, so it isn’t.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.