Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Are L.A.'s Local TV Stations Back to Their Old Car Chase Habit?

Over at, I go into more depth on Monday's strange Bentley car chase.

At least one local news director, KNBC's Bob Long, admits now that covering the chase was a colossal waste of time. But given the rumors that a person of note (a.k.a., Chris Brown) may be behind the wheel, they made the call to dump the 11 p.m. newscast in favor of telecasting the pursuit:

"On rare occasions we'll make them a part of regular newscasts if it seems to rise to the level of legitimate news," said KNBC news director Bob Long, who's been vocal in the past on his dislike of televised chases. "This one smelled like it might. We got some information that turned out to be incorrect, that a person of some prominence was involved."

But it wasn't Brown - and Long admitted that covering the chase wound up being a mistake.

"It was a wasted newscast, and I feel terrible about that," he said. "It irritates my serious news watchers. I got a lot of unpleasant mail today, and I answered everybody to explain my thinking."

While Long was wringing his hands, others may also be wondering whether blowing out their newscasts - and giving up that ad revenue (some of which will likely be recouped via makegoods) - was the right call.

But there's also likely some unrepentant news directors out there who feel that police chases - and the increased ratings that usually pop during the broadcast - are good for business.

"There are some people in our business who get a huge kick out of moving that needle," Long said. "But that's a meaningless number. It represents people who are in constant motion through the dial, who don't actually watch anything."

More here.

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