By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/16/2003 7:00:00 PM
WFLA-TV Defends Actions
Editor: It is unfortunate that BROADCASTING CABLE failed to do any fact-checking before it published its guest Airtime "The Story Local Media Ignored," by Elizabeth Rose (Nov. 3, page 40). Had it done so, it would have found that both our newspaper The Tampa Tribune and our WFLA-TV had done exactly the type of thorough, in-depth reporting on the Daytime program that Ms. Rose accuses us of not having done.
Further, had you studied the matter, it would also have been apparent that the FCC, after conducting its own extensive studies and considering a full record in its ownership proceedings, earlier this year rejected Ms. Rose's archaic view on crossownership. The common ownership of newspapers and television stations increases the quality of local news, and it also promotes localism, all as Media General has been demonstrating, proudly, in Tampa.
J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman and CEO, Media General, Richmond, Va. (Received via e-mail)
Editor: Ironically, in a commentary about WFLA-TV's alleged non-disclosure, Ms. Rose appears to have some disclosure problems of her own. Your readers may have been interested to know that Ms. Rose spent this past spring and summer employed by Consumers Union on its coordinated media campaign to defeat and then to roll back the FCC's relaxation of its media-ownership rules, including relaxation of the newspaper/broadcast-crossownership ban, for which Media General worked very hard. Given Consumers Union's vocal and strident opposition to these changes, surely your readers should have been informed of Ms. Rose's association with that group. Such disclosure would have given your readers the proper context to evaluate Ms. Rose's comments, which were exclusively directed toward the impact that WFLA-TV's programming decisions, and the Tampa Tribune's coverage of those decisions, would have on the newspaper/broadcast-ownership issue. The manner in which Ms. Rose was identified led your readers to believe that she was simply an impartial and disinterested observer, which she certainly is not.
Why Ms. Rose chose not to disclose her personal bias is something I will leave to your readers.
John R. Feore Jr., Media General, Washington, D.C. (Received via e-mail)
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