Friday, June 10, 2005

Nexstar Fires KARK General Manager

Source: Arkansas Business.com Though we couldn’t get anybody at Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. to actually say the words, KARK-TV, Channel 4, General Manager Perry Chester was fired last Tuesday and worked his last day at the station on Friday.

A senior vice president of the station’s parent company, Nexstar, made it sound as if the decision was mutual. We think he was just being nice.

“The way I would describe it is we’ve been talking, the both of us, about [Chester] doing some different things and [Nexstar] doing some different things,” said Brian Jones, senior vice president and regional manager for Nexstar. “We worked out an arrangement that Perry is on board with and everybody else is on board with.”

Though “an arrangement” was “worked out,” the only insight Jones gave was that the deal means Chester would no longer be employed by either KARK or Nexstar.

Jones will be in Little Rock “two or three days a week,” he said, to help run the station until a thorough search for Chester’s replacement is completed. Jones oversees 26 Nexstar-owned television stations throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Montana.

Nexstar brought Chester to Little Rock from a company-owned CBS affiliate in Champaign, Ill., soon after Nexstar bought KARK from Morris Multimedia in August 2003. Chester had been with the company for six years before his fate was decided last week.

Another local television executive, who wanted to remain anonymous, said Chester was more or less doomed after Nexstar’s decision last November to cancel KARK’s subscription to Nielsen Media Research’s quarterly ratings and axed an affiliation with the Associated Press.

Nexstar, which also owns NBC-affiliated KNWA-TV in northwest Arkan-sas, also pulled that station’s subscription to the Nielsen and the AP.

It’s no secret among media buyers and sales managers that the Nielsens are a far-from-perfect system, but they also say that it’s all they have to offer advertisers, who line up to buy spots based on who is watching which programs and at what time.

“We wish him well,” said Jones. “He’s been with the company for six years and has done some good things both in the Champaign and Little Rock markets. But he’s going to do some new things now and so are we.”

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