Oklahoma Stations Run State-Sponsored News Segments

Griffin-owned KWTV, KOTV blend segments on state's health insurance program into news

Griffin Communications, owner of KWTV Oklahoma City and KOTV Tulsa, is getting $3.1 million from the state of Oklahoma to run marketing segments blended into the stations' newscasts, reportsTulsa World. Griffin employs former KWTV reporter Angela Buckelew as the spokesperson for the campaign, called Insure Oklahoma and focusing on health insurance. Buckelew appears in the Griffin stations' morning programs regularly, and is to front a half-hour monthly program on KWTV, KOTV, and CW outlet KQCW.

Buckelew's segments in the news appear like regular news stories, reports Tulsa World. An anchor reads a disclosure statement after the segments informing viewers that they are sponsored bits.

Griffin landed the three-year marketing contract in 2007 from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Griffin President/CEO David Griffin said the flap was "much ado about nothing." He said Griffin's marketing outfit won the state bid fair and square, the segments are clearly marked as sponsored, and they serve the greater good of Oklahoma residents. "We took a preponderance of caution to make sure we tag them [as sponsored segments]," he said. "It's ultimately clear with viewers."

Griffin also said the segments have abundant news value in Oklahoma, a state he says is struggling with uninsured residents. Even without the contract, he said the stations would dedicate similar energy to reportage related to health insurance.

Last week, Griffin restructured to combine its Tulsa and Oklahoma City operations and dismissed KWTV/KQCW General Manager Regina Moon.