Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nightly News Promotes NBC's Football Coverage

On Sunday's Nightly News, the final story was about football. That's hardly surprising. The Nightly News producers often use their Sunday broadcast to shamelessly promote NBC's Sunday Night Football coverage, which airs immediately after the news. Last Sunday's story was about the Washington Redskins--who just happened to be one of the teams that was playing on NBC that night. On Sept. 26, Nightly News did a story about the NFL's efforts to recruit younger fans. And on Sept. 19, Nightly News ended with a story about Eli and Peyton Manning (who play for the Giants and Colts, respectively), which was immediately followed by the Giants-Colts game on NBC. Of course, nothing can top the Sept. 8 & 9 broadcasts. Nightly News spent those two days shamelessly promoting NBC's Sept. 9 NFL season opener between the Vikings and the Saints. On Sept. 8, Nightly News aired a three-and-a-half minute "Making A Difference" story about a Vikings player. The story began with Brian Williams telling us, "He just happens to be a pro football player, and you'll see him on NBC tomorrow in the season opener as his Vikings take on the world champion Saints in New Orleans." The following day, Brian went even further. He devoted his entire broadcast to promoting the Saints-Vikings game by anchoring Nightly News from New Orleans, the site of the game. A three-minute story about the game featured 43 seconds of opening remarks from Brian, including, "Playing tonight in the Superdome, their first game as defending Super Bowl champions when they meet the Vikings tonight here on NBC...." At the end of the broadcast, Brian offered yet another plug for the game and spent time the next day bragging about the game's ratings. This is beyond shameless. Using Nightly News to promote NBC's football coverage is a violation of the viewers' trust and a grossly inappropriate use of the newscast. People tune in to Nightly News to find out about important news stories going on across the country and around the world, not to see endless promos for NBC's sports and entertainment shows. The FCC should revoke NBC's right to air Nightly News. And then they should penalize them 10 yards and a loss of possession.

Why don't the Nightly News producers just drop all the pretenses and devote their entire Sunday night broadcast to NBC's NFL coverage? It could be the first half hour of "Football Night in America". Here's a story suggestion for next week: Susan Boyle, Jackie Evancho, Chelsea Clinton, Anna Chapman, Nick Nelson, Nikki Yanofsky and a group of Medal of Honor Winners could play a football game against a team made up of Afghan orphans and rescued Chilean miners. The mascots would be oil-soaked Gulf pelicans. And it would all be for charity, so we know they'd be making a difference!

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