There are just a handful of sporting events that capture the casual observer like the NCAA Basketball Tournament. For a television station to preempt a portion of today’s games, you would think that something important was taking place locally. Or in the case of KFMB-TV San Diego, they simply thought more viewers needed to see a pair of episodes of the education children’s series Liberty’s Kids rather than the first hour of the Michigan/Virginia Commonwealth game.
Only one official statement was made regarding the programming decision as KFMB producer Louis Weiner insinuated to his followers that the FCC required the station to miss the start of the basketball game.
What FCC mandate would that be exactly? Every television station is required to air three hours worth of Educational/Informational children’s programming per week. The only requirement in terms of when to air is that these programs must run between 7:00am and 10:00pm. This is why most networks retain some semblance of Saturday morning children’s programming despite the fact that the audience has completely abandoned the broadcast networks for Nickelodeon, Disney, or Cartoon Network.
How is it that every other CBS affiliate in the Pacific Time Zone found a spot in their schedule for their E/I requirements and to air the basketball game? KCBS-TV Los Angeles scheduled its three hours between 7 and 9am Saturday and 8 to 9am on Sunday this week.
While we can nitpick the scheduling decisions made by KFMB-TV and the decision to not air what is one of CBS’ marquee attractions in its Sports portfolio, the bigger issue is how the station handled this decision. The station’s Facebook page is filled with disgruntled viewers, (one rightfully directing people to watch online where the station gets no advertising revenue) and no statement from the station. Plus there’s that great big banner telling viewers to “Catch ALL the action on CBS 8“.
With all the added sources for content nowadays, why must we continue to do everything to make our audiences mistrust us and head to alternative rivals? Any attempt to send viewers to a digital rival should be seen as throwing in the towel on your broadcast content. You can’t compete when you’re not even trying.