Public Eye 

So duh, Rosie O'Donnell is a lesbian. Big deal. How long must we third-, fourth- and fifth- generation boob-tube couch potatoes be asked to capitulate to another multimillion dollar celebrity baring the truth about her sexuality in an oh-so-transparent effort to cash in on a new, just-about-to-be-released book about herself? Been there, done that. It's so '90s. Can we move along, please?

The answer, of course, is no. Not until the homophobic state of Florida comes to its senses and our local, historically homophobic KRDO Channel 13 stops flubbing up.

After weeks of hyping last Thursday's Primetime Thursday with Diane Sawyer segment about gays who adopt children and a recent Florida court ruling prohibiting gay adoption, the local ABC affiliate last week opted to instead broadcast a hockey playoff game between the CC Tigers and the Wisconsin Badgers.

No offense to non-hockey fans, but this is a major deal. The Tigers are in the semifinals, Colorado Springs is a huge hockey town and KRDO has held the rights (and therefore the commitment and the responsibility) to air CC hockey games for a decade. This is our hometown team. Playoffs are the big time. Bring the fighting into our living rooms, by gum, so we can bark at the TV screen while the pucks, and the sticks, and the swear words, and the fists, and the loose teeth fly.

We want our boys to win, and squeaky close as the game was, last Thursday they didn't let us down.

Unfortunately, the TV station didn't exactly do a stellar job letting viewers know why they decided to knock the heavily promoted Primetime segment to an 11:35 p.m. timeslot in favor of hockey. (If it makes anybody feel better, TV stations in Wisconsin also pre-empted Primetime to broadcast the game. And, on Friday, KRDO bumped General Hospital to a 1:30 a.m. timeslot to air the Tigers taking on archrival DU.)

But it's no surprise that many Colorado Springs folks who tuned into KRDO expecting to watch Primetime smelled a bad fish. The special had been heavily promoted by everyone from Us Magazine to National Public Radio to KRDO itself.

Viewers were instead met with the hockey game, along with what some claim was a confusing bottom-of-the-screen crawl informing them that the Primetime would be shown later that night.

Adding to the suspicion that KRDO was pulling a fast one was the FOX logo that appeared at the top of the ABC affiliate's screen, which led many to surmise that the hockey game was also being aired locally on FOX Channel 21. In fact, Channel 13 had bought the right to use FOX's video feed, but the game wasn't broadcast on the local FOX affiliate.

But by the middle of the night, when Primetime finally aired, dozens of people were convinced of a scandal. They even suspected that KRDO had edited out the best parts of the show, and were also offended by the late-night "you, too, can be born-again" TV advertisements that are common to, well, late-night TV.

The next day, the station was flooded with more than 50 angry phone calls and about 150 e-mails complaining about the snafu. "The whole thing is suspect because of the nature of the program and the well-known stance of KRDO and its bias against the gay community," said Pam Howard, a Colorado Springs gay parent.

Howard is not paranoid. After all, KRDO, owned by former Colorado Springs Mayor Harry Hoth, has exhibited signs of extreme homophobia for the past decade. During the 1992 statewide Amendment 2 campaign to pass a law prohibiting gays from seeking legal protection, for example, the station's news staff was instructed to describe the proposal as one that would bestow "special rights" to "homosexuals."

Back then, car dealer and KRDO advertiser Will Perkins was the chairman of Colorado for Family Values, the group that sponsored the anti-gay amendment. In 1996, the station fired one of its news reporters after she decided not to buy a car from Perkins and was nave enough to tell the car dealership that one major reason was because of Perkins' anti-gay political views.

This week, station manager Neil Klockziem rejected the notion that politics in any way factored into last week's hockey vs. Primetime decision. Many callers, he noted, were appreciative of their choice in programming.

And of the critics? "Obviously they didn't care for hockey, therefore no matter what was said, it wasn't what they wanted to hear," Klockziem said.

-- degette@csindy.com


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