Does ABC-7 Eyewitness News Really Want My Opinion, or For Me to Watch the News?

Last Updated Jul 2, 2009 2:36 PM EDT

Yesterday, I wrote about people representing a sketchy magazine subscription company showing up at my door; today, let me tell you about the robocall (or robopoll) that I got from ABC 7's Eyewitness News station in New York. "Hosted" by Eyewitness News anchor Bill Ritter (right), it asked me who was at fault in the mess in the New York state legislature along with demographic information, and whether I was either a Republican and Democrat, and a conservative, moderate or liberal. It's the first time I've ever been robocalled by a TV station, and it surprised me -- I thought most of these polls were more opt-in, with people either taking a poll on a Web site or dialing in themselves to state their opinions.

But then, at the end of the call, it became clear. The point of the robocall was, in part, to get me to watch the show (if I do I watch local news, I tend toward NewsChannel 4). Once the polling was complete, the recorded Ritter came back on the line and told me to tune in to watch the results. Put in the larger context of what's going on in the local news business, this robopoll makes a certain kind of sense. Think of it as robopoll as media buy; I highly doubt they really care what I think. People aren't watching as much TV as they used to; local station revenues, according to a report released yesterday from BIA Advisory Services, are predicted to be down by a jaw-dropping 17.3 percent this year -- hence, it's time to set up the robopolls! Reach some people who might not be watching Eyewitness News!

So, when the big moment came last night on the news, did I check in to see what the result was? Um, no.