Nash. homosexual TV show has some asking: What can be done?

by Michael Foust, posted Friday, June 17, 2005 (14 years ago)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A conservative activist in Nashville, Tenn., is encouraging city residents to contact their CBS affiliate and protest a homosexual-themed program the station is sponsoring.

NewsChannel 5+, a 24-hour local news and information cable station run by CBS affiliate WTVF, is partnering with the local homosexual newspaper "Out & About" to produce the show, dubbed "Out & About Today." Aimed specifically at the homosexual community, a new episode will air each month.

Jerry Flowers, who heads the local conservative group Common Goode (online at www.commongoode.org), said in an online column that his first inclination would be to "ignore" the program and see how "offensive" it is.

But Flowers also said the show could have a far-reaching impact, particularly next year when Tennessee citizens vote on a constitutional marriage amendment banning "gay marriage." The program could provide a significant platform to speak out against the amendment.

"It may be no coincidence that WTVF has chosen to give the homosexual community access to free media in a year leading up to an election in which Tennesseans will decide whether it will allow the 'gay elite' to change the definition of marriage –- and society," Flowers wrote. "If WTVF management didn’t think about the consequences, they should have."

In an e-mail interview with Baptist Press, WTVF marketing director Richard Eller said Out & About Today is one of five new programs targeting specific markets. The other programs, he said, will target the Hispanic community, the religious community, the legal community and viewers interested in "psychological and behavioral health issues."

Eller rejected complaints that Out & About Today is "propaganda." He asked that opponents of the program "reserve judgment until they have had the opportunity to watch" it.

"These all are informational, content-driven programs that focus on such topics as health, current events, entertainment and social issues that interest specific groups of people," Eller said of the five new programs.

The station has received both positive and negative feedback regarding Out & About Today, Eller said. He added that NewsChannel 5+ has panel discussion programs that allow for debate on topics such as homosexuality.

"We have in the past and will in the future have panels debating issues related directly to this topic," he said.

Nevertheless, the fact that the station is broadcasting a program friendly to homosexual activism won't sit well with social conservatives.

Flowers said local citizens have several options in taking action. Among them:

-- Write the station, and send a copy of the letter to the FCC.

"If you feel you cannot ignore the launch of such a program, let Channel 5 management know quite kindly that you don’t feel this is the kind of programming that is in Nashville’s public interest ...," Flowers wrote. "Television stations operate under a set of standards in which they must periodically undergo a review to see if they are adequately serving the needs of the community in order to keep their broadcast licenses."

-- Request equal time.

"If NewsChannel 5+ is going to devote programming time to homosexuality-affirming viewpoints, it will likely open itself up to fairness in programming inspection from the FCC under WTVF’s broadcasting license restrictions, since so much of [NewsChannel 5+] programming is derived from the broadcast side and is not original to the cable channel."

-- Write advertisers.

"But don’t complain to advertisers about something you haven’t seen, and don’t sit back and gripe if you’re not willing to get involved," Flowers wrote. "Watch the show, decide if it is truly offensive, and then write a cogent, dispassionate, factual letter to the show’s sponsors to state your disapproval of their participation. It is likely that some of the sponsors will not even know that their spots are being run during the show."

-- Avoid watching programming on WTVF during the "sweeps weeks" months of February, May, July and November. That is when ratings are watched most closely and when local advertising rates are set, Flowers said.

"Believe me," he wrote, "the sales department at Channel 5 will care a great deal if a bunch of Nashvillians just turn their sets to other channels during sweeps weeks."

-- Write the local cable company, Comcast, and ask that it take NewsChannel 5+ off its "basic cable" lineup and place it instead in the digital lineup (which costs customers extra to receive).

"Tell your cable provider that you object to the easy availability to teens and young children of the sexual nature of the programming and the kinds of topics that will be discussed on easy-access television," Flowers wrote.


With reporting by Erin Curry.

For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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