Those in charge wouldn't speak to me for this week's story on the quality of local TV news programming.

However, a reader who happened to be in the KIRO offices in October of 2009 sent over this image of a white board outlining "KIRO 7 Major News."

As the white board says: "Any weather related news" is "KIRO 7 Major News" (click to enlarge). That certainly comports with what I found when I watched KIRO's "Eyewitness News" at 5 p.m. on a recent, randomly selected day.

That hour began with breathless coverage of a hailstorm. "KIRO 7 crews put you in the thick of the blast!" Also: exclusive helicopter footage of a vehicle fire on I-405, a look at Seattle's "politest robber ever," and crime reports featuring less polite lawbreakers of all sorts. Then relegated to a few seconds each: a city council hearing on the downtown Seattle tunnel, a UW student rally against education funding cuts, and the Seattle Police Department's horse patrol being saved from budget cuts (though the major takeaway from the horse patrol story was that amazing amounts of hail interrupted the horse patrol press conference).

How many millions of dollars in political advertising is a news product like that worth? As it turns out: Many, many, many millions of dollars.