Affils: ABC dropped the ball, again


For the second time in six weeks, ABC affiliates are complaining that their
network let them down in crisis coverage.

ABC's response to the early stages of war in Iraq Wednesday night brought
quick complaints from affiliates saying not only was the network less
prepared than others, but that they were misled by the network into thinking ABC
was in continuous coverage and there would be no cutaway for local news.

When anchor Peter Jennings did send it back to local stations for local news,
news departments were caught unprepared and had to scramble to put something on
the air.

"They dropped a scud missile on their affiliates," one ABC affiliate
news director said.

Anger and disappointment were widespread among ABC affiliate news directors
and their general managers Thursday morning, with many an electronic mail or conference
call among them overnight.

ABC news spokesman Jeffrey Schneider explained, "A decision was made to
end coverage at 11 p.m. Eastern time. We failed to communicate that information to our affiliates in a
timely manner, which left many of them in an untenable position -- not being
prepared to go on with their local newscasts -- which we deeply regret. There is
nothing we value more than the vital relationships we
have with our affiliates, and we are sorry to have let them down last night."

Schneider said the network and its affiliate relations were responding to
individual affiliate concerns Thursday.

An affiliates' meeting had already been scheduled for the National Association of Broadcasters-Radio-Television News Directors Association confab in
Las Vegas next month.