Wednesday, November 16, 2016

11.16.16 Bee-otch of the Day: WRAL-TV

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Age: 60
Occupation: television station
Last Seen: Raleigh, NC
Bee-otched For: turning SNL into Swiss cheese

It was one of the biggest comebacks in comedy history.

It was shocking as it was when it was announced a few weeks ago when Dave Chappelle was going to host Saturday Night Live. Needless to say, unlike Eddie Murphy's lame excuse of an appearance during their 40th Anniversary special last year, the comedian didn't disappoint.

He had a standup monologue that was nothing but laughs (and some thought-provoking statements), sketches that were pretty damn funny, and yes, he brought back some of his old Chappelle's Show characters during a sketch that parodied The Walking Dead.

And sadly, viewers in Raleigh missed a lot of it.

Viewers complained that a lot of Chappelle's monologue was bleeped out on the market's NBC affiliate, WRAL-TV. Some thought it was a bad cable connection or even weather. But it turns out that Chappelle violated a station policy.

According to WRAL management in a statement, the station runs on a ten-second delay and has a zero-tolerance policy for not seven, but ten bad words that they deem objectionable. They claimed that during the episode, two of those words were used nine times. The monologue, the Walking Dead short and a digital short that aired toward the end of the episode where regulars Kyle Mooney and Leslie Jones have sex in Chappelle's dressing room all got muted by the idiot running the board in WRAL's control room.

It's unclear what words WRAL bleeped; some of the words that Chappelle used that are not normally allowed on network TV included "Goddamn", "nigger" and, thanks to president-elect Trump, "pussy".

Station vice president and general manager Steven Hammel apologized for censoring Chappelle, claiming that they didn't mean to censor his message, but they were only following station procedures.

WRAL is owned by Capital Broadcasting Company, which has been owned by the Fletcher and Goodmon families since 1939 and WRAL-TV since it signed on in 1956. It was Raleigh's original NBC affiliate from 1956 to 1962 when it flipped to ABC. NBC was stuck with either secondary affiliates or crappy UHF signals up until a few months ago when WRAL-TV regained its NBC affiliation. It was with CBS, which moved to the former NBC affiliate, WNCN-17, which was a former NBC O&O.

Of course, NBC *should* be happy with strong-signaled WRAL, but the station has had a long history of censorship. As a CBS affiliate, they've yanked out the Victoria's Secret fashion shows for reruns of The Andy Griffith Show. Same goes with sister station WRAZ Fox 50. It's also worth mentioning that WRAL has had a very racist past. In the 1960s, the station's general manager was known for his editorials bashing the Civil Rights Movement, claiming that it promoted Communism. That GM, by the way was elected US senator in 1972 and remained on that post for 30 years. That man, BTW was Jesse Helms.

I remembered here in Michigan 10 years ago, my childhood CBS affiliate, WWTV 9&10 refused to air a documentary on 9/11 because it contained severe profanity. It even aired a message claiming that they wanted to air a CENSORED version of the special, but CBS said no. In its place, 9&10 - which like WRAL is family-owned - aired a forgotten Robin Williams movie. About 10 years before that, west Michigan religious outlet WLLA-64 carried a select shows from The WB. However, they lost their affiliation when it was discovered that the station was censoring the profanity on their shows, which were all tape-delayed.

Apparently, WRAL was the only NBC affiliate to censor last weekend's SNL. Even smaller affiliates in neighboring towns aired the show bleep-free.

So, will NBC get on WRAL for bleeping the show? Who knows? They don't have a lot of alternatives there. WTVD-11 is an ABC O&O and they're the only other VHF option. The act of censoring shows - even past the FCC-mandated "safe zone" of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. - could end up being the norm in Raleigh.

At least there's Hulu.


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