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UPDATE: KBOI-TV General Manager to Staff After BW Story: 'Don't Get Distracted'

Two 30-second spots advocated for less government, derided "outsiders" influence on health care.

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UPDATE: March 9, 2014

Someone's ears were apparently burning over at Channel 2.

On March 5, Boise Weekly reported that KBOI-TV pulled a pair of controversial news promos that openly advocated for small government while deriding outsiders for "imposing their will" to fix Idaho health care.

When BW asked KBOI-TV Vice President and General Manager Don Pratt about the spots, which ran for less than a week, he conceded that the promos had been pulled, saying that it was not his station's intention "to create a spot that creates an impression of bias. But to the extent that we've done that, we're obviously going to be held accountable for that."

And within hours of the story being published (BW, Citydesk, "KBOI-TV Pulls Controversial News Promos," March 5, 2014), Pratt sent an internal memo to KBOI-2 staffers, cautioning them not to "get distracted by this."

"The tone and phrasing of our new campaign needed adjustment, so that is what we will do," wrote Pratt in the internal memo.

KBOI-2 began airing its "adjusted" promos this weekend.

Here's a look at the script of one of the original promos and the script of its replacement:

Original news promo: "Lots of people think they know how to fix health care. At KBOI-2 we know that Idahoans know what’s best for Idaho. So when outsiders try to impose their will...when they try to tell us how to live...you can count on KBOI-2 to protect what’s right. We stand for the people of Idaho."

Adjusted promo: "There are a lot of confusing changes going on right now in health care. It's becoming harder to understand how we can protect our families... to decide for ourselves, right here in Idaho what's best. At KBOI-2, our promise is to keep the system accountable to the people it serves. We stand for the people of Idaho."


ORIGINAL STORY: March 5, 2014

Maybe you saw the spots during CBS primetime programming; or perhaps during last weekend's NCAA basketball coverage.

The controversial, albeit brief, pair of news promos openly advocated for small government while deriding outsiders for "imposing their will" to fix Idaho health care.

You won't see them again.

One news promo interspersed photos of KBOI-TV's news team with lovely, almost folksy images familiar to Boiseans: hot air balloons drifting over Ann Morrison Park, flowers blooming at the Boise Depot and kids smiling at a lemonade stand. But then, along came images of a faceless politician (he's only shown from the neck down), a Statehouse committee hearing room and an ACHD "road closed" sign.

"KBOI-2 believes that the best government is small government..." said the spot's authoritarian announcer. "Keeping government off the backs of Idaho: KBOI-2."

A second news promo had even stronger political overtones.

"Lots of people think they know how to fix health care..." said the same announcer. "So, when outsiders try to impose their will, when they try to tell us how to live, you can count on KBOI-2 to protect what's right."

"Our intention was to create a bold new marketing message," Don Pratt, KBOI-TV Vice President and General Manager, told Boise Weekly.

But Pratt, who cautioned that he "didn't have much to say" about the matter, conceded that it was not his station's intention "to create a spot that creates an impression of bias. But to the extent that we've done that, we're obviously going to be held accountable for that."

Ultimately, the controversial spots, which ran less than a week on KBOI-TV, misfired.

"We're re-writing the spots," said Pratt.

Even the top television programming chief at KBOI-TV's parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, was taken somewhat aback.

"This comes as a surprise to me," said M. William Butler, V.P. of Programming and Promotion. "Yeah, that does sound unusual."

Pratt said KBOI-TV has a strong "viewer advocacy news philosophy."

"We want to clarify our viewer advocacy position of keeping government open, honest and accountable," he said. "That was our intention and that's what we're going to do."

Pratt said that the station hadn't received a lot of viewer feedback but what they did receive was "not what we had hoped for, and that's why we have to reassess our message and address it."