Soccer fans in Elmira, New York were fired up when WENY, the local ABC affiliate, broke into the overtime period of the World Cup final for weather. Six minutes were remaining in the match, which added a pair of 15 minute periods after regulation time ended in a draw. WENY went live due to a tornado warning in the region, and stayed live until the match was over.
Doug Beers, WENY general manager, stands by the decision Monday morning, saying it was a confirmed tornado in the market Sunday night. "We've always said, the safety of our viewers is No. 1," he tells B&C.
There's "pretty significant damage" in DMA No. 174, reports Beers.
He says a half dozen people emailed the station to express their displeasure with the station's decision to go live at the expense of the World Cup, with comments that are "not fit for broacast," while four or so phoned. He adds that the station also heard from plenty of grateful people.
One TV meteorologist, Scott Hetsko of WROC Rochester, defended WENY on Twitter. "#weny can't win. If a tornado killed 5 people and they DIDN'T cut in then they could be attacked for not warning people. Tornadoes kill!", tweeted @scotthetsko.
In case you missed it, Germany beat Argentina with a goal in the extra periods to break a 0-0 tie. Germany had just scored when WENY switched to a weather report.
Lilly Broadcasting owns WENY, which also airs CBS and CW on its subchannels. The station was not equipped to move the soccer action over to a subchannel, says Beers, with those networks occupying the dot-two and dot-three.
No second thoughts for Beers today, he says.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.