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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WFSB blinks, allows reporters to cover senate debate

Smart move
Amid growing criticism, WFSB-TV, Channel 3, has agreed to let reporters from other news organizations into the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts to cover today's U.S. Senate race debate sponsored by the station.

As of Monday, the Hartford CBS affiliate was planning to ban all reporters other than its own from today's 3 p.m. taping of the one-hour debate - and then to maintain a 27-hour news blackout until it broadcast the pre-recorded event Thursday at 7 p.m.

But protests began to arise after the station's plans were outlined in The Courant Tuesday morning - and by mid-afternoon WFSB general manager Klarn DePalma said that outside reporters would be admitted for same-day coverage.

"At the end of the day, it's freedom of speech, so I wanted to make sure everyone had access to it," DePalma.


DePalma said WFSB's tape-delay plans grew out of a need to avoid a scheduling clash with tonight's gubernatorial debate, which is to be aired live on WVIT-TV, Channel 30, from 7 to 8 p.m.

But critics said there was no legitimate need to bar outside reporters from live coverage - and "I think [DePalma] was a little caught off-guard" by the negative reaction, Valvo said. "So he went and talked to his newsroom, and took a look at the proprietary issues and then looked at the First Amendment issues," Valvo said, and "let the First Amendment win."
Hats off to WFSB for coming to their senses.

Game on!