More Messages: Shared Content

The August 14 edition of The Big Idea, a CNBC program starring ad agency loudmouth Donny Deutsch, contained a surprise with a local twist.

Specifically, one segment was dominated by an investigative report by Channel 7 journo Tony Kovaleski about the laws governing the mortgage industry in these parts. According to the piece, which originally aired way back in May, Colorado is one of just two states that doesn't regulate mortgage brokers; Alaska is the other. To illustrate the dangers inherent in this lack of oversight, Kovaleski screened hidden camera footage of Wayne Martin, a broker who denied that he had a criminal record in a conversation with an undercover 7News rep. In fact, the station divulged, Martin has actually been convicted of "four financial felonies in three states."

What's so unusual about Deutsch using Kovaleski's scoop? Channel 7 isn't an NBC affiliate; it's part of the ABC News system. That means the producers of Deutsch's show were so desperate for content that they wound up giving extended publicity to an outlet at a rival network. Granted, The Big Idea's ratings are anemic in the extreme. But getting any exposure on national TV is a bonus for Channel 7, whose audience locally remains modest in comparison with the newscast viewership at Channel 9, the longtime market leader.

Expect cross-pollination of this sort to become more common. Already, nets give publicity to competitors on occasion; for instance, the Today show ran regular post-mortems about Fox's American Idol last season. Given cable news' insatiable need for material, the restrictions that once bound local television stations will likely disappear, too.

That's a bigger idea than any Deutsch has had lately. -- Michael Roberts