Granite chips at wall between ads, news

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Granite Broadcasting Corp. conceded that Central New York Live, on
WTVH(TV) Syracuse, N.Y., blurs historic church/state lines between news and
sales.

The program's mix of paid-for interviews and news updates featuring former
newspeople in a traditional news time slot raised eyebrows among competitors and
critics and even within Granite, officials said.

"The line is extremely blurred," said Syracuse University broadcast
journalism professor Dow Smith, a former news director and general manager
himself, adding that he was troubled by the program's approach even before the
local Post-Standard drew attention to it.

At first, Smith said, viewers were given no indication that the interviews
with advertisers on the program were not legitimate news product controlled by
the station. The subsequent "courtesy of" attempts at disclaimer were also
inadequate, he added.

Granite said its news content never has been and never will be for sale.

The company insisted that it was a failure of execution, and not of intent,
and it remains convinced that this kind of program, with the right firewalls, is
a viable alternative even in a traditional news time slot.

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