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Shale.TV dead before planned arrival (updated)

As posted earlier Monday morning, trusted, reliable sources told unclebarky.com that Shale.TV will not be making its planned debut in October -- or ever.

They were right. The official announcement came just before noon Monday from Jerri Robbins, manager of public relations for Fort Worth-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which was to have been Shale.TV's sole sponsor. She cited an ongoing anemic economy as the primary reason.

"We truly regret having to make this tough decision," Robbins said. "But we know, given today's economic challenges faced by our country and industry, it is the right decision as we focus our time and resources on exploration and production activities."

Former CBS11 and WFAA8 anchor Tracy Rowlett, veteran, award-winning local television producer John Sparks and former network television producer Olive Talley (who earlier reported for The Dallas Morning News) were hired in July to be the linchpins of the planned new web site.

It was billed by Chesapeake as a vehicle to discuss production of natural gas in the Barnett Shale and other gas shale throughout the country.

Emails to Rowlett and Sparks seeking comment have not been returned yet. Rowlett, in an interview with unclebarky.com on the day of the stunning Shale.TV announcement, said that maintaining journalistic integrity in the new venture was his overriding concern.

"I guess the best way to put it is the proof will be in the pudding," he said in a telephone interview at the time. "If people will just give us an opportunity, they'll see that what we'll be doing is good, objective reporting. Chesapeake is just the sponsor, and there's nothing truly different about having a sponsor in news programming. I really won't be answering to Chesapeake. They have already said we'll have full editorial control."

Robbins, in the Chesapeake statement, said that Rowlett, Sparks and Talley "have been tirelessly working to produce a high-quality program covering an assortment of developments pertaining to the Barnett and other shale plays . . . We are deeply disappointed that their extraordinary work will not be seen."

Rowlett left CBS11 to join Shale.TV. Sparks earlier had been dropped from the station as part of another corporate-mandated downsizing by parent company CBS. Another CBS11 reporter, Mark Johnson, recently resigned from the station to join Shale.TV.

All four now will have to look elsewhere.