Las Vegas Sun

October 13, 2015

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TV station owner accuses mining industry of blackmail


Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Las Vegas Sun

Chancellor Jim Rogers talks about issues other than education that are impacting Nevada’s budget crunch during a town hall meeting on education Monday on the UNLV campus.

Television station owner Jim Rogers has accused the Nevada Mining Association of “blackmail” and “bullying” over a news series critical of the mining industry.

The Nevada Mining Association canceled its advertising contract with KSNV Channel 3 after the station ran an investigative four-part series on the mining industry and how it pays state taxes.

“These people are unbelievably rich and they are unbelievably powerful and they’ve got no trouble using the power,” Rogers said in an interview. “They tend to have a kneejerk reaction to everything and they seem to have the attitude of ‘how dare you question what we do?’ If you even question it, you’re going to be punished, and they picked the wrong guy to do that with.”

Rogers released a statement Thursday saying “these are the tactics of an industry that uses 1950s bullying to get its way. Those tactics would never have worked against us and never will.”

The Nevada Mining Association decided to pull the ads Feb. 25, the Monday after the series ran, said industry spokesman Tim Crowley. The cancellation affects three weeks of ads, the tail-end of the association’s contract with the news station.

“Channel 3 was highly critical of our public awareness ads,” Crowley said. “It became an easy decision to no longer run them … we said, if you’re critical of our ads, we won’t run them.”

The investigative piece zeroed in on the public awareness ad campaign launched by the industry this year to boost its public image in the run up to the legislative session, where a bill to remove its constitutional tax position is under consideration.

Rogers said the ads were worth $9,000 but did not specify what revenue the news station would have earned if the mining association had renewed its contract.

The series, which aired Feb. 18-21, shows Channel 3 reporter Reed Cowan saying the Nevada Mining Association is “pumping big bucks into big ad campaigns to convince you they are good for the state. That’s the message hitting at exactly the same time as a piece of legislation threatening to take mining out of the state constitution.”

The legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 15, proposes to remove the mining industry’s separate tax rate from the state constitution.

After the first part of the series ran, Channel 3 vice president of news Bob Stoldal said Crowley called the station’s attorney and said the station could lose advertising with the series.

Crowley said he did talk to Doug Hill, the station’s attorney.

“I’ve known Doug for years and asked him his impression of the first show,” he said. “I did not ask him to stop the series.”

The series aired during the Legislature’s first month in session.

Amending the constitution as the legislation proposes to do requires the measure to pass the Legislature twice before subsequent public approval on the ballot.

The measure passed the Senate and squeaked through the Assembly on the last day of the 2011 legislative session.

Two years later, the measure has yet to see action during the first four weeks of the legislative session. Proponents of the legislation fear that the mining industry has used the interim to persuade legislators not to pass it.

“Nevada legislators too often have backed down on legislation that would have made the mining industry pay the true value to the state of Nevada for what it takes from the state,” Rogers said in the televised statement.

Former Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, was featured in the Channel 3 series as a critic of the mining ads and a booster for the mining legislation.

She and former state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford drove the legislation to passage during the 2011 session.

“They never like it when a spotlight is shown on mining taxation,” she said.

Rogers said that while he’s upset with the decision, the station will continue to do “fair and straight” stories about the mining industry.

“They’re way off the mark and completely out of line,” he said. “I find it offensive and repugnant. At some point, the issue is over, that’s the end of it. They did what they did and we did what we did, and that’s the end of it.”

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