KMBC's `Royal' treatment ticks competitors

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Competitors to KMBC-TV Kansas City were a little ticked at the station's deal
for live coverage of Kansas City's American Royal Barbeque and Parade, raising
questions about the propriety of exclusive deals around news events.

KMBC-TV this year entered into a deal with the American Royal Association, a
local nonprofit that sponsors numerous major entertainment events in Kansas
City. The deal included exclusive live coverage of the annual October barbeque
and parade.

The station also ran a 30-minute special on "The Royal" featuring its news
personalities.

KMBC says it had sought to do the program before the exclusive rights deal,
and it gave up no editorial control over the program or its newscasts from the
barbeque.

Competing news directors were not happy when they got a letter from The Royal
telling them at what times they would not be able to broadcast live at the
event.

While that directive hardly carried the weight of law, it was nonetheless
troubling. "If we want to go live," said Regent Ducas, news director at KCTV(TV),
"we'll go live. But the letter bothered a lot of people."

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