By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Nov 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM

If you remember, Channel 4 tried to buy viewership by offering iPads every night of the ratings season to people who watched their news.

The announcement of the winner was made each night at 10 p.m., a ratings spot that Channel 4 had won for years.

As it turns out, the iPad deal turned out to be a real turn-off. Channel 12, for the first time in memory, beat Channel 4 news at 10 p.m.

I'm sure the wonderful folks at Channel 4 are saying that they lost because of a weak network lead-in and that Channel 12 benefited from strong network programming.

There is some truth to that claim, of course. But there may also be enough people who were offended by the attempt to buy ratings that they tuned out.

From the start, the Oprah-like giveaway smacked of a desperate plea for viewers. A news operation ought to get viewers by doing better news than the next guy.

There has been a growing stark division between Channel 12 and Channel 4. Channel 4 has become much more sensational with lots of stories that are news in only the most tangential way. Channel 12 has stuck with doing hard news that brings viewers some perspective. The ABC affiliate does as good as job as possible for a television news operation.

As a cynic, I could suggest that Channel 4 is working on another, bigger giveaway for the next ratings period. A pair of Brewers season tickets?

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.