ABC spent Friday scrambling to knit together deals that would keep Ted Koppel’s Nightline program on the air even in cities where the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s ABC-affiliated stations banned tonight’s program. Tonight’s program will feature Koppel reading the names of more than 700 U.S. Servicemen and women who have died in the Iraq War.
ABC News tells Poynter Online that it has made arrangements with stations in St. Louis, Columbus, Ohio; Mobile, Alabama; Greenville, South Carolina; The statewide Ohio News Network; and in Massachusetts on the New England Cable News Network. England.
The stations that have stepped in to carry the program include:
• St. Louis: WPXS-PAX TV (live), KTRS radio AM (live)
• Columbus, OH: Ohio News Network Cable (live).
• Greenville-Ashville: WHNS-Fox (live) Owner: Meredith Broadcasting
• Mobile: WJTC-UPN (airs at midnight) Owner: Clear Channel
• Springfield, MA: New England Cable Network (airs at Midnight)
Sinclair Broadcast Group claims the Koppel program is trying to make a political statement that would turn sentiment against the war effort. U.S. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, criticized Sinclair Friday for blocking the program. Sinclair fired back in a memo of its own.
Micah Johnson, vice president for news operations for WHNS-TV Greenville told Poynter Online: “Our station decided to air Nightline because we believe it should be the decision of the viewer to determine what they want to watch or believe after viewing. Nightline has a strong history of producing journalistically strong content. If this were a program done by an independent company or a one time only show, then that may deserve further scrutiny. This is Nightline and Ted Koppel.”
Read a transcript of Poynter Online’s interview with Ted Koppel about the controversial program.