Several viewers called "slashing" on WITN...

By: Michael Riddle
By: Michael Riddle

If two events of importance to diverse sets of people occur, the rules of nature say that these events will come into direct opposition to each other...

I am going to throw out a few numbers from this past weekend to you...

They are 4, 24 and 1.4.

The number 4 relates to Game #4 of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup. The NHL Playoffs have been going on since April and they are now down to the final two teams, the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins (Detroit is now up 3-1 in the best of seven series).

The number 24 refers to the number of years that WITN has carried the local telecast of the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, beginning on Saturday night and then continuing all day on Sunday. The telethon has always been scheduled on the first Saturday and Sunday following Memorial Day.

Finally the number 1.4 is actually a little bigger because I am referring to the $1.4-million that was raised for the local Children's Hospital at University Health Systems of eastern North Carolina during the weekend telethon. This is local money that stays right here in eastern North Carolina for the benefit of the people of eastern North Carolina.

Our NHL schedule has fluctuated recently because both Detroit and Pittsburgh have dominated their series. Many days we have been unsure if one of these teams would sweep their series and the subsequent games would be canceled at the last minute. The game on Saturday night was originally scheduled to be the 3rd game of the series, but at times it looked like it could be a Game #6 or Game #7 if the series started earlier.

We have a long term commitment to air the Children's Miracle Network Telethon at the same time that NBC and the NHL scheduled Game #4 of the Stanley Cup. We honored our commitment to carry the telethon beginning at 9:00pm that evening. Since it would be to no ones benefit that carry the game from 8:00pm - 9:00pm and then switch away to the telethon we elected to air Wheel of Fortune at 8:00pm and Lawyers on Call at 8:30pm. That was our decision, so please do not blame Pat Sajak and Vanna White or the Whitley Law Firm for this programming decision.

I find it interesting that a good number of people complained, via telephone or e-mail, about the fact that the Stanley Cup was not on WITN-TV. I guess it indicates the number of people that have re-located to eastern North Carolina from places like Michigan and Western Pennsylvania. Only one of the telephone complaints that we received had a "southern twang" to the voice. Trust me, I have nothing against Hockey. I grew up watching hockey as a young boy along with my borther. We would go to see the Clinton Comets take on teams like the Johnstown Jets. Yes, those are the same teams that you might remember seeing in Paul Newman's film "Slapshot".

In past year's carriage of the Children's Miracle Network Telethon has led us to preempt NBA Finals, Tennis and Golf. One of those NBA Final games involved Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. We were able to get another local station to carry some telecasts from NBC, so interested viewers would not miss the game. Times change, and those days are behind us.

Last year we preempted the 3rd game of the Stanley Cup. Anaheim was taking on Ottawa, and very few viewers in eastern North Carolina seemed to notice or care. This year it appears that old established teams from large northeastern markets draw a lot more interest in eastern North Carolina.

I don't think there is anything that we can say to die-hard fans that will satisfy their disappoint in not be able to see this game, but please remember that a lot of people are also dedicated to Children's Hospital.

Many people donated their time and their money to ensure that we have a first-rate health care facility to serve the pediatric needs in eastern North Carolina. At the conclusion of the telethon plans were announced to build a new, expanded Children's Hospital to help serve the growing needs across all of eastern North Carolina.

So while one game from the 2008 Stanley Cup series will fade from memory of the years, Children's Hospital will continue to serve and provide first-class care for our children for many years to come.

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  • by $$$ Location: NC on Dec 11, 2008 at 01:08 AM
    I agree T. I rank the game right after Doogie Houser reruns
  • by T Location: Greenville on Aug 21, 2008 at 09:50 AM
    Yeah Dave but the key work here is affiliate. Local first, then National. I work with a Steelers "nut" and I tell him the same thing. (by the way, I like the Steelers, Penguins, and the Pirates). I think the station had a community and moral obligation to do exactly what they did. The telethon was for the BENEFIT of sick children locally. The game was for the ENTERTAINMENT of transplant pennsylvanians (or ohioans) locally. And I would pick up and leave in a minute? If that is indeed the case you would have already done it. Decisions to live anywhere come with rewards and concessions. Your reward was to watch an event that benefits hundreds of sick children locally; the concession was to miss one game played by a team hundreds of miles away that you just happen to love. And, I sincerely doubt it was of any consequence to NBC's ratings whatsoever. If you consider that and insist you are still right, then you and I will simply have to agree to disagree.
  • by Dave Location: Greenville on Jul 17, 2008 at 06:40 AM
    T, trust me if I could go back to PA tomorrow I would in a flash. All I'm saying is that if people wanted to watch the telethon they should have been there in person or it should have been on the public access channel. WITN is an affiliate of NBC and this hurt NBC's ratings!
  • by T Location: Greenville on Jul 16, 2008 at 01:51 PM
    Hey Dave, Pittsburgh is not a LOCAL team! The telethon benefits us LOCALLY! Sick child, hockey? sich child, hockey? Hmmm, which is the proper to choose? Programmers, YOU MADE THE RIGHT CALL! And Dave, if Pennsylvania is so great; why aren't you there? I bet the game wasn't interupted there.
  • by Elsie Location: Avon, N. C. 27915 on Jun 30, 2008 at 03:59 PM
    Dear Mike, I want to try to find out why WITN and WNCT are always having difficulty with their channels. I am with Charter Communications. Is that the problem or am I an unfortunate person because of my location? I do not like Direct because they don't even have you at all at last investigation. Any comment you might make would be appreciate and also is there any thing I can do to make it better. I refuse to give up. Thanks. Elsie

    Editor's Note: we have been told that Charter is working on a solution to get a better signal to their customers. They are currently using a microwave hop that WITN and WNCT have no control over.

  • by vici Location: sq on Jun 6, 2008 at 04:26 AM
    cant' find any info about a sm plane crash, i saw a glimsp on the news but didnt' get it
  • by Dave Location: Greenville on Jun 4, 2008 at 09:37 PM
    I bet if the Hurricanes were playing for the Cup your telethon would have been put on the 24-7 weather channel and the hockey game would have been on WITN channel 8. I am from the great state of Pennsylvania and am utterly appalled at the actions of WITN.
  • by Bob on Jun 2, 2008 at 09:04 PM
    You said:"There was a story posted on our homepage explaining where to find the hockey game and other programming on Sunday. Additionally, we provided that information on WITN-TV during the day friday, and ran crawls during the CMN broadcast. The CMN broadcast is an annual event we have been airing for 23 years. It airs the first weekend following Memorial Day every year. " This assumes that anybody watches the beg-a-thon or pays attention to the crawls or even visits your web page for critical information. I get my best info from Fox, CBS, and VS. Maybe next year you should post the changes on the networks somebody actually watches?
  • by Bob Location: Grifton on Jun 2, 2008 at 09:01 PM
    Well, if it had been the final game, we would have missed it...and for what? For an annual beg-a-thon that could be held at any other time. I get a little bored with this "for the children" mentality. I don't think too many CMN supporters would care when the beg-a-thon is held. They'll support it anyway. I've never watched a telethon either on WITN or on Public Broadcasting and don't plan to. I think it's a lot of over-promotion and guilt-dumping. You want money from me? Write me a letter. Don't assume everybody buys in your pet cause enough to warrant prime-time coverage. I'd love to see the Arbitron numbers . I know hockey isn't a big draw in eastern NC, but I don't know anybody who watches beg-a-thons. One game may fade from memory, but I guarantee the bad Channel 7 taste left in the collective mouths of NHL fans will not. The beg-athon can be held anytime and anywhere, as evidenced by the constant solicitation at retail stores. The Stanley Cup finals only happens when it happens.
  • by NHL-FAN Location: Greenville on Jun 2, 2008 at 05:02 PM
    In response to the NHL game that was not aired. It would have been nice to have some warning that it would be on a different channel. I still don't understand why Wheel of Fortune could not have been aired on the weather channel instead. I think that it should have been advertised that it would be on a different channel. I was on the WITN website and I did not see anywhere that it would be aired. I also did not think that I was suppose to look at a station labeled WEATHER to see a NHL game that has been advertised like crazy to be on NBC. Apparently in this section of the state the people who work for NBC or WITN are not the brightest in the company and I now know that NBC stands for Nincompoop Broadcasting Company. I hope I speak for all the hockey fans out there when I say that the decision to not air the game on the regular station was an extremely poor decision that must have been decided by the flip of a coin. It was also the most idiotic decision to air it on the weather channel. EDITOR'S COMMENT: There was a story posted on our homepage explaining where to find the hockey game and other programming on Sunday. Additionally, we provided that information on WITN-TV during the day friday, and ran crawls during the CMN broadcast. The CMN broadcast is an annual event we have been airing for 23 years. It airs the first weekend following Memorial Day every year.
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