Thursday, May 11, 2006

if you live in terre haute, you have to look out your window

the other day, the daily show aired a segment mocking WTWO, terre haute's nbc affiliate. WTWO has been airing what can be only be called an "attack ad" against rival WTHI's weather team. the ad boasts that its weather team shares 45 years of collective experience, compared to a paltry 30 at WTHI, and suggests that the location of WTHI's antennas causes a "doppler dead zone", preventing WTHI from adequately predicting terre haute's weather.

the daily show segment turned a few hoosier heads and an article soon appeared in the terre haute tribune-star:

WTWO general manager Duane Lammers, who helped create the weather commercial, said The Daily Show "must have been pretty hard up for material ... I didn't quite understand the point."

the point was that jon stewart thinks you're a pompous ass.

Tuesday Lammers said the weather commercial was his work and that of is promotions director. He said it had gotten a lot of attention in the TV industry and that "people who work in our business think it's a great spot."

He insisted jabs at WTHI were "not personal — we don't say anything bad about anyone at WTHI. We pointed out technical flaws."

WTHI's chief meteorologist, Kevin Orpurt, does not concur.

On air with the weather at WTHI since 1984, Orpurt said the WTWO commercial "really kind of hurt my feelings because we pride ourselves here on giving the best coverage we can, and the implication was that we do not."

Known to come into the station and appear on air in the middle of the night during tornado watches and other severe weather events, Orpurt said WTWO's "implication that WTHI's coverage has a dead zone is simply not true."

"I guess it's funny if you watch [the Daily Show]," Lammers said, but he doesn't think Stewart's program is "particularly mainstream."

what does lammers, who is also the COO for nexstar, know about what's mainstream?

the tribune-star article got a response on tonight's daily show: host jon stewart started off the episode with a sarcastic apology, commenting "i did not realize that that part of indiana had the cable yet" and going on to call lammers and WTWO "pussies" for not airing the controversial nbc show the book of daniel back in january.

how's this for mainstream? lammers and WTWO made national headlines last winter for being the first station to announce that it would not air the book of daniel, a drama featuring aidan quinn as a pill-popping episcopalian minister who has regular discussions with an easygoing jesus. the show was eventually cancelled for low ratings, though this surely would have happened even faster if the actions of lammers and others hadn't attracted the show so much attention. i personally would never have heard of the show if not for squeamish affiliates like WTWO who refused to air it.

let's go again to the tribune-star, this time from january:

Insisting that it is not censorship because "anybody can get in their car and drive 20 miles to view this show if they want," WTWO general manager Duane Lammers made the decision earlier this week to "pre-empt" the series premiere. At the time he announced the move on the station’s Web site, Lammers had not seen "Daniel," which didn't matter because his decision wasn't about the content of the program, he said.

drive 20 miles and view it where? i'm sure the local bar would be willing to turn off the game when that episcopalian preacher show comes on.

In a midweek telephone interview, Lammers told me he was trying to make a point about the heavy hand of network regulatory practices, not become the poster boy for the American Family Association's ferocious nationwide campaign to keep the controversial new series about a troubled Episcopalian priest off the air.

"It's not about this program, it's about the system in general, the regulatory environment," Lammers said Wednesday. "I don't know why the American Family Association picked my name out of a hat ... They're misstating my reasons for doing this."

in lammers' original statement, he explained his brave stand against the regulatory environment thusly:

Our relationship with NBC has always provided for the right to reject programming. I am reaffirming that right to let them know I will not allow them to make unilateral decisions affecting our viewers.

Second, I want to draw attention to the worst offenders of indecency on television ... the cable industry, which faces no decency regulations, nor a license renewal.

If my action causes people in our community to pay more attention to what they watch on television, I have accomplished my mission.

so he wanted to protest the filth on cable by refusing to air a network show, which he hadn't seen? i'm not sure what he thought he was standing up for. but fortunately, he soon sat down, watched 20 whole minutes of daniel, and patted himself on the back for censoring it sight unseen:

"In the 20 minutes I watched I didn't see one redeeming quality at all."

Also the chief operating officer for WTWO's parent company, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Lammers said he has watched a lot of television in his time, but never seen anything like "Daniel." One scene, he said, "was so bad, I can't even tell people about it — I don't talk that way."

apparently duane has never seen law & order: svu, which continues to air on WTWO and features gobs of rape, molest, and dead children. i like filth and mature themes as much as anyone, but let's be honest: if lammers has never seen anything like daniel, he hasn't been watching his own network.

terre haute has a bad enough reputation as it is, even among hoosiers, and duane lammers and WTWO sure aren't helping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
check that out