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On reporters leaving, Levin returning and more local TV news

Leftovers before the long Labor Day holiday...

A few people have wondered about non-compete clauses after former WKBW-TV (Channel 7) sportscaster Nick Filipowski moved to WIVB-TV (Channel 4) so quickly. Non-compete clauses are prohibited in the broadcasting industry in New York State. In other words, former WIVB-TV anchor-reporter Brittni Smallwood could immediately go to WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) or WKBW-TV (Channel 7) if she wanted to join one of her former station's rivals and they had an opening. Channel 7 would be wise to pursue her a few months after her baby is born if she is ready to go back to work. Come to think of it, Channel 2 would be wise to pursue her, too, since Channel 4's morning ratings went up opposite Channel 2's "Daybreak" when Smallwood was co-anchoring for 11 months.

Brittni Smallwood is leaving WIVB Channel 4 after five years.

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I've been surprised that there has been some backlash about WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) anchor Scott Levin's return after Adam Benigni filled in for him for about three months. Some readers likened the situation to when Jay Leno returned to take over "The Tonight Show" from Conan O'Brien. It isn't a comparable situation. O'Brien had the job permanently, Benigni was a temporary replacement. Levin returns to Channel 2 next week but won't be in the anchor chair until Sept. 11.

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Channel 4 is starting a new Bills pregame show at 11:30 a.m. Sundays, which is a half hour after "The Sean McDermott Show" will air on Channel 7 and MSG WNY. Channel 7 is billed as the Bills station and carried all of the preseason games, but Channel 4 gets most of the regular season games as a CBS affiliate. It also is simulcasting the Nov. 2 Thursday Night Football game against the New York Jets that is carried on NFL Network.

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First impressions of Channel 7's newest sportscaster, Jenna Callari: The Cheektowaga native has a decent voice and that's enough for me at the start. To be honest, I can't listen to most of Channel 4's recent hires, including sportscaster Shannon Shepherd. You can know sports really well, but it will get lost when your voice is so distracting.

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The ouster of Grand Island's Mark Jansen from CBS' "Big Brother" doesn't appear to have cost the popular reality show many local viewers. The Thursday night he exited had a 5.6 rating on Channel 4. The Sunday program that followed the exit had a 6.2 rating.

Former Big Brother houseguest Mark Jansen of Grand Island. (CBS)

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The night of President Trump's controversial rally in Arizona several days ago illustrated the difficulties that the more balanced CNN has here getting an audience in a town where conservatives head to Fox News and liberals go to MSNBC. Fox News averaged a 2.3 rating for the 75-minute rally and MSNBC a 1.8 rating. CNN averaged a 0.7 and the final 30 minutes averaged a 0.2.

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WNED-TV, the local PBS affiliate, is offering a different schedule of repeats for the upcoming Ken Burns series "The Vietnam War," which starts Sept. 17 and runs 10 episodes through Sept. 28. Nationally, PBS is carrying episodes at 8 p.m. and then repeating them at 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. depending on their length. WNED isn't carrying the repeat until the following day at midnight after the next episode airs. The idea is to give viewers more time to realize they can view the previous episode.

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It is time for a laugh. Every time I see the happy faces of attorneys Ross Cellino and Stephen Barnes in their commercials, I instinctively laugh because we all know they are suing each other.

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If you are on Twitter, you might think that everybody in Western New York watches the HBO megahit "Game of Thrones." I've even read people ask on Twitter, "Am I a bad person for not watching 'GOT'?" I wouldn't worry about that. The season finale a week ago had a 4.4 live rating and a 1.5 rating for a midnight repeat for a combined 5.9 rating. That's about what "Big Brother" gets. Of course, many "GOT" viewers watch later on DVRs, On Demand and on HBO's multiple airings. But you might have expected more people to watch the season finale when it aired Sunday to avoid having it spoiled for them on social networks.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO/TNS)

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If you want to binge some programs this long weekend, I recommend two Netflix offerings that I recently watched: "Atypical" is about a family with an autistic son navigating the teen years. It co-stars Michael Rapaport as his father. I can watch Rapaport in anything and he is a sympathetic father and husband in this one. His wife is cheating on him. "Ozark" stars the ageless Jason Bateman as a father of two in a terrible marriage. The incredible Laura Linney plays his wife, who was cheating on him. (Gee, I sense a Netflix series pattern). The family moves to the Ozarks so Bateman's character can launder money for a drug king who will kill everyone if he doesn't succeed. There isn't a decent adult in the 10 episodes, but it is still hard not to root for Bateman to survive.

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Congratulations to WBEN-AM talk show host Sandy Beach. Love or hate his politics, you have to acknowledge he is a talent. And next month, he will be inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

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Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Dan Dunleavy is going into the final year of his contract but he still looks like the heir apparent to Rick Jeanneret when the Hall of Famer retires. No formal contracts have begun. "I feel good about my future here," said Dunleavy. His boss, Mark Preisler, the executive vice president for media and content for Pegula Sports and Entertainment, also gave Dunleavy a vote of confidence. "I don't see Dan going anywhere but here," said Preisler.

 

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