A KCBS-TV story on unethical car dealership practices raised controversy even before the story aired last week, as several car dealers-who learned of the story when reporter Joel Grover sought their comments-threatened to pull their six-figure annual ad commitments in protest.
KCBS-TV General Manager and CBS Stations Group head John Severino said he told the complaining dealers that they could certainly pull their advertising in response to the story, "but that we would report that as a news story, and to explain why they were pulling their ads, we would have to rerun the story."
Severino did agree to pull back on a promotion: an airplane banner that flew over Dodger Stadium among other places and told car buyers to beware.
Severino said the dealers raised a legitimate argument that the promotion was "painting with too broad a brush," given that the story also showed several acting on the up-and-up. Other promotions made it clear that only "some" dealerships were deceptively adding charges.
California Department of Motor Vehicles raided one of the auto dealerships early last week, armed with information from the report. As of mid-week, the station said, no ads had been pulled.
- Also at KCBS-TV, reporter-anchor Gretchen Carr broke her leg in three places during a parachute jump with the U.S. Army's Golden Knights, who had invited her to do a tandem jump.
Ever the trooper, Carr returned to the station, prepared her piece, anchored the news and then went to a nearby hospital for X-rays.
She was expected to return to anchoring late last week, but the station says her plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro later this year have been set back.