This story elicits a big “wow!” every time I think about it.
A Marine lieutenant returning home from war contacts WJLA Washington so they can film him surprising his wife upon his return.
The wife happens to be a Washington Redskins cheerleader, reports the Washington Post, and the meeting was to take place during her practice session at FedEx Field. But WRC is the exclusive broadcast partner of the ’skins. So the football club gave the story to WRC, and told the cheerleader she’d lose her job if she spoke to anyone from WJLA.
WJLA’s management wasn’t pleased, to say the least.
“To threaten to fire his wife — that is objectionable on so many levels that I couldn’t even count them,” said Bill Lord, station manager at WJLA (Channel 7). “When we go to the PR department at any company and ask to do a story, the last thing you expect is that they’ll take the story and give it to a competitor. That is just flat wrong. I’m always going to think that’s unethical. It was hijacked.”
The Redskins issued WJLA an apology. (Is it me, or do the Redskins seem to apologize a lot?) Wrote owner Daniel Snyder:
“I do regret actions taken by our representatives that prevented your news organization from being able to report on the surprise early return of Lt. Denver Edick and his reunion with his wife Kristin, one of our cheerleaders,” Snyder wrote. He said he is “making many changes in personnel and policy” that he hopes will ensure “that the Redskins are respectful and fair to the journalists that are covering our team.”
WJLA is owned by Allbritton. NBC owns WRC. The two are close competitors in DMA No. 9.
WRC says it wasn’t party to any illegal encroachment.
“We went to FedEx Field to cover a story,” said Matt Glassman in a statement. “We did not request that it be exclusive and have no knowledge why another station was denied access.”
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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.