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Angry 'Lost' Fans Claim False Advertising

It's no secret that fans of ABC's Lost have grown increasingly impatient with the show's creators for ladling mystery upon mystery while tossing them mere scraps of revelation. Now Losties are blaming ABC's promotions department for stoking those frustrations.

After last week's installment, angry fans lit up message boards at ABC.com and other online forums complaining that a promo spot for the episode had over-promised when it trumpeted that "answers to three of Lost's biggest mysteries are finally revealed."

Many agreed that the three "mysteries" alluded to in the promo were hardly central to the supernatural drama about plane-crash survivors that has unfolded ever so slowly over 2½ seasons.

To be sure, ABC and Lost's creators have attempted to reassure impatient viewers that their questions will be answered—particularly now that ratings have been off since the show returned in a new time slot after a grueling three-month midseason hiatus.

But at The Fuselage, the site sponsored by Lost creator J.J. Abrams, one poster fumed that ABC had "lied to the audience" by promising what the episode failed to deliver and likely alienated many viewers.

In an e-mail statement, ABC Entertainment's marketing chiefs Mike Benson and Marla Provencio maintained that the "show delivered the answers to the three questions that were posed in the promo, which we believe are questions on our viewers' minds.

"We have theutmost respect for Lost viewers," they added. "Our intention is never to alienate, only to entice."

NewsTube

Despite having been written off as obsolete amid years of ratings declines, the evening newscasts remain a vital cultural force. And Andrew Tyndall is still watching.

As editor of the Tyndall Report, Tyndall (who is also a B&C contributing editor) has monitored and analyzed the way the newscasts cover various topics since 1987.

Now he is inviting viewers to join him. His Website tyndallreport.com recently began offering an extensive searchable database of news stories complete with links to video clips of the segments.

Each day, Tyndall posts a grid of the previous evening's newscasts—organized by network, topic, reporter, dateline and the "angle" of the coverage. Visitors can click on thumbnail links to watch clips of the segments on the networks' Websites.

Although the database goes back to only mid November 2006, it already comprises more than 1,300 links to clips.

Tyndall sees the database not only as an invaluable research tool but as a sort of network-news YouTube, where viewers who might not otherwise watch the evening news can pick and choose clips of news segments. None of which seems to bother the networks.

"Every clip has an ad in front of it," Tyndall says. "So I'm helping them monetize another area of their business."

He suggests, however, that the networks consider shortening the pre-roll spots to 15 seconds: "A 30-second ad for each clip is unfriendly."

'Idol' Bait

Whether reporting on the latest Jack Bauer bind or Simon Cowell barb, the news teams at Fox affiliates are aces at pushing network synergy—especially during sweeps. But Fox's New York City flagship, WNYW, dropped the ball last week on its American Idol tie-in.

During Idol's Wednesday broadcast, a series of Fox5News promos breathlessly urged viewers to tune in at 10 p.m. for a report promising revealing photos of New Jersey Idol hopeful Antonella Barba.

But as the newscast got under way, there was scant mention of Barba or the racy photos. It wasn't until 10:45 that anchor Rosanna Scotto said technical difficulties had scuttled the segment.

Turns out Fox5 spiked the Barba story in the name of democracy.

According to a WNYW spokesperson, the station did not want to influence viewers who were still dialing and texting in their votes. (And this didn't occur to anyone before the station began plugging the story?)

As for the photos—which include a shot of Barba and friends topless at the beach, albeit with strategically placed hands—they could be found online last week.

Alas, none were available on Barba's MySpace page. With yet another News Corp. property in the mix, WNYW might've run the story and scored a cross-promotional trifecta.

With Michael Dolan and Michael Malone

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