The View Pre-emption on January 28

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by WFAA

wfaa.com

Posted on January 31, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Q: On January 28 about 30 minutes of The View was pre-empted for breaking news. The news amounted to a girl who wanted her car back from her boyfriend, a package of trash left near a manhole, and someone with a gun at a medical facility - which I can't even find any mention of in today's paper. I realize you don't know at the time the breaking news is nothing, however, why must we have to watch 30 minutes of helicopter views of men near a manhole, a campus parking lot, and pictures of the borrowed car, complete with the same meager details recited over and over. Can't you just run a line at the bottom with this stuff? Do we really need to see the parking lot and manhole for 30 minutes meanwhile pre-empting a good show? If I wanted continuous news, I'd turn to your news station WFAA2. This must be an embarrassment to the choice to pre-empt The View. Even if these stories panned out to be big, why can't the information be reported later on the news shows (when the actual details are known) and leave regular programming in place.

A: Thank you for your thoughtful email. Whenever there is a chance that the public’s safety is threatened, we must provide as much information as possible in a timely fashion. A man allegedly barricaded himself with a rifle in an area hospital and an Amber Alert is issued by local law enforcement: both would seem to qualify.

We know from law enforcement data and our own experience that the first few minutes and hours are critical when an Amber Alert is issued. Waiting until the next newscast rolls around could mean the difference in recovering a child quickly or not. Thus, providing information swiftly as we did in these cases makes good sense.

We also know from research studies that we need to be intrusive in the broadcast presentation such that viewers take notice of information involving potential public safety issues. That means sometimes a crawl along the bottom of the screen is not always sufficient. As you suggest, we did not know how these stories would turn out and since law enforcement issued the Amber Alert we responded accordingly.

As for preempting programming, we take such decisions very seriously. In this case, since The View is available online as well, we knew that viewers could catch up with what was missed. It may not be the optimal viewing experience, however in the case of an Amber Alert and the news of the suspect allegedly barricaded in the hospital, we believed getting the information out to the public was the correct thing to do.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and are grateful for your email.

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