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Ask SAM: Why didn't local TV stations televise President Trump's speech?

Ask SAM: Why didn't local TV stations televise President Trump's speech?


Q: I could not believe President Trump's campaign event was not televised on the local TV stations, especially WXII. Why? I'm glad I could watch some of it on Fox News.


Answer: Michelle Butt, president and general manager of WXII NBC-12, said that there are a few factors in the channel's decision to carry the rally, which was held Tuesday at Smith Reynolds airport in Winston-Salem, online but not to preempt local and network programming on television.

"First, fairness," she said. "If we commit to covering live, outside of news time, President Trump's re-election, then we would be obligated to carry live outside of news time, each Biden election event. You can't pick and choose.

"Secondly, we do not control the timing of these events, nor do we control every hour of our broadcast day," she said. Some programming time belongs to the network, NBC. "If we cannot provide equal access over the air, the only way to ensure that, is to put the events on a platform (like our website, Facebook, etc.) that we 100% control. It boils down to two simple things: Can we carry without interruption the entire event and can we apply that same standard to each candidate for every event?"

Jim Himes, vice president and general manager of WGHP Fox-8, said that WGHP streamed the President's campaign speech, and that the station will handle it the same way when Democratic candidate Joe Biden comes to town. Kevin Daniels, news director at WGHP, confirmed that the station ran the entire event live on its website and on Facebook.

Larry Audas, president and general manager of WFMY CBS-2, said that the station covered the campaign event "with live and ongoing multi-platform coverage beginning in our early evening newscasts, through the rally, and later leading the late news with two reporters still on site at 11 p.m.

"From the President’s arrival and first step out of Air Force One through his departure, live and continuous coverage of the pre-rally, rally and post-rally was streamed on and social media as well," Audas said. "The beauty of streaming capability today is that our news coverage efforts are not limited to a singular TV channel as was the case years ago. WFMY News 2 took full advantage of coverage opportunities on TV, web site, mobile and social pages when President Trump came to the Triad Tuesday."

Most stations carried the rally online. It was also carried live on cable television on Spectrum News.

Q: Did the Trump campaign and/or the Republican National Committee pay all of the expenses for his political visit here on Sept. 8?


Answer: Political organizations are required to pay the travel expense for campaign trips, though that does not include some other expenses such as Secret Service costs. In cases where a trip is a mix of official and political functions, they pay a percentage of the expenses.

According to the Congressional Research Service, regarding the use of Air Force One, “Whether a trip is for official or political purposes, the Air Force pays all operational and other costs incurred by the use of the aircraft."


Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101


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