WJZ Broadcast Of Orioles Game Cut Short For '60 Minutes'
By Dave Hughes, DCRTV.com
CBS-owned Channel 13/WJZ received the wrath of many Orioles fans May 6 when it cut off the end of the O's-Red Sox game at 7 p.m. to air the network's "60 Minutes."
The game, which started at 1:35 p.m. and was in the 16th inning, was also being shown on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The Orioles won after 17 innings, 9-6.
"What a disgrace," one viewer said. "That was a blunder. There is no need to carry part of a ballgame. The next time football runs past 7, I am calling and [complaining]. Never again will I watch a ballgame on WJZ. Thank goodness WBAL radio stuck with it. It was fun listening to the end."
According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, "60 Minutes" is routinely delayed during the NFL season, but not for a baseball game.
"Viewers were alerted via a lower-screen crawl before 7 p.m. that those viewers who wanted to see the game's conclusion should switch over to MASN," WJZ spokesman K.C. Robertson told The Sun. "Those who wanted to see '60 Minutes,' particularly the high local-interest story on Baltimore Olympian Michael Phelps, were alerted to watch '60 Minutes' on WJZ."
Examiner sports media columnist Jim Williams, who was watching the game on MASN, defended Channel 13, saying that because the game was also on MASN the station was not contractually obligated to carry the entire outing.
"I can understand why 13 did what it did," Williams said. "If they had stayed with the game, they would have gotten a lot more complaints for not showing '60 Minutes.' "
He said that while WJZ would not have been allowed to delay the CBS network feed, the station could have taped the end of the game and shown it later during the evening, such as after the late news.
"But, with baseball, the game could have gone many more innings," Williams said, "and there was no way to know when it would end."
The vast majority of Orioles fans have access to MASN, which airs all Orioles games in full.
"I'm sure there was that little old lady who doesn't have cable who was upset at not seeing the end of the game," Williams said.
The Sun TV critic David Zurawik wrote: "This was, after all, a weekend of Orioles baseball when more and more fans were starting to feel a sea change had come to what had been a woeful team last year. ...
"If this weekend comes to be seen as a turning point in the Orioles' fortunes, the pre-emption could take on a life of its own in popular memory and sports-talk lore. And WJZ is going to be second guessed endlessly by local fans for not, say, staying with the game until it ends and delaying the start of the prime-time CBS schedule the way the network does with Sunday football."
Posted May 7, 2012