Obama’s immigration speech avoided by networks

ABC, CBS, and NBC made the executive decision to not air President Barack Obama’s immigration speech, as opposed to their cable counterparts – CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC.

Immigration is a big part of everyday life around the globe and it tends to be tied to negative connotations from certain political parties – UKIP in the UK and the Republican party in the U.S. The argument seems to be that immigrants generally mean trouble: stealing jobs, living off the government, and illegally moving into the country are just the beginning.

With recent victories from both of these parties (UKIP in the Rochester and Strood by-election and the Republican party gaining majority in Congress), tensions seem to be rising when it comes to immigration. This was felt pretty strongly in the US earlier this week when the three major U.S networks -ABC, CBS, and NBC- decided not to air President Obama’s speech on immigration.

AP reports that the 15-minute address was meant to cut into primetime scheduling, which would lead to a conflict of interest for networks and their advertisers. Spanish-language network, Univision, chose to push back the broadcast of their high-rating Latin Grammys in order to live-air the address.

No statements have been made by the heads of these networks regarding the decision. However, third party owners such as the Hearst Corporation and other affiliate local channels decided to push back their primetime content to air the address.

Paige Hornor, a news producer for KHBS/KHOG, an NBC affiliate in Arkansas, says: “the VP of News at Hearst was actually visiting our station today and she was trying to decide what to do. We discussed a bunch of alternatives (streaming, airing it on the CW instead of ABC, and making it available in other ways instead).” Ultimately they made the decision to air the speech.

Content producer at NBC4 in Washington D.C, Mila Mimica, told us their decision to air the channel was highly influenced by their location.

The decision made to not air the speech was highly controversial. In the address, President Obama stated that over five million illegal immigrants would be receiving legal status in the US. Not airing a presidential address poses the argument that these news organisations are not fulfilling their job.

“I think it is of real concern to the country if we come to a place where our major broadcast outlets are not fully covering the news,” said David Westin, ABC News president from 1997 to 2010.


Images: Corkythehornetfan, Varnent, EEIM


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