Hal Fishman, the veteran KTLA “News at Ten” anchorman whose clashes with news director David Goldberg earlier this year reportedly drove him to consider leaving the station, has instead reupped and signed a new three-year contract that will keep him attached to the Tribune outlet through Sept. 30, 2000.
Terms were not disclosed, but sources say the pact grants a salary increase over a previous deal that was said to pay Fishman about $1 million annually.
Under the new agreement, Fishman will also keep his title of managing editor for the newscast, which grants him editorial control over the structure and format of the program.
However, Fishman has been reluctant to assert control and pull rank despite the philosophical gulf separating him and Goldberg, who has reportedly alienated many in the KTLA news department by tinkering with “News at Ten’s” rigidly fast-paced story mix.
Goldberg has added longer pieces and, during sweeps periods, has commissioned multipart series on such topics as cybersex and the business of pornography. The format tweaks have frustrated Fishman and others and led to confrontations since Goldberg’s hiring last summer.
“News at Ten” has been overtaken by KTTV’s 10 p.m. newscast during the major sweeps periods over the past year, due in large part to KTTV’s massive lead-in from Fox’s primetime lineup.
While Fishman has never been blamed for the newscast’s fall from its longtime perch at the top, KTLA’s aging audience base has been cause for alarm, and Fishman is not a prime draw with the younger demos the station is looking to attract.
However, the demo gap is offset by Fishman’s massive popularity with older viewers, and by the fact he tends to finish at or near the top of every popularity and recognition survey of news personalities in the Southern California market.
Fishman boasts the longest continuous service of any anchor in the history of TV. He has been on the Los Angeles airwaves since June 20, 1960.