Accusing ABC of a political agenda, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said it will pre-empt Friday's Nightline broadcast on its eight ABC affiliates. ABC said Sinclair is off base.
In the show, Ted Koppel plans to read the names of over 500 soldiers killed in Iraq. "Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show," Sinclair said in a statement on its Web site (http://www.sbgi.net/), "the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."
The company said that while it "would support an honest effort to honor the memory of these brave soldiers, we do not believe that is what "Nightline" is doing. Rather, Mr. Koppel and "Nightline" are hiding behind this so-called tribute in an effort to highlight only one aspect of the war effort."
The show has engendered much debate, with some saying it is a fitting and important tribute and others that it empowers terrorists and undercuts the war effort.
ABC said it disagreed with Sinclair on both the group's decision to pre-empt and its charge that the Nightline broadcast was politically motivated.
In a statement, ABC said, “the Nightline broadcast is an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.”
In response to Sinclair’s suggestion that it read the names of the thousands of terrorist victims of the 9/11 and and subsequent attacks, ABC noted that on the first anniversary of 9/11 it read the names of the victims in those at tracks on the broadcast.
The network said it has reported “hundreds of stories on 9/11 and that it will continue to report on “all facets” of both the war in Iraq and the broader war on terrorism. ABC said it knew of no other affiliates outside the Sinclair group that were pre-empting the broadcast.