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West Coast Viewers Are Slighted by CBS and ABC

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

It was a disconcerting Sunday for sports viewing in Los Angeles.

On Channel 2, viewers missed most of the final round of the L.A. Open, and on Channel 7, the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony was shown delayed at 7 p.m. even though it was originally scheduled to be shown live at 4.

An ABC spokesman in Calgary said the schedule change was made at midweek, too late for such weekly publications as TV Guide and Television Times. However, it wasn’t too late for daily listings, such as those in The Times’ sports section, but the ABC press department didn’t notify newspapers.

Instead of the Closing Ceremony, Channel 7 at 4 p.m. showed a Woody Allen movie, “Manhattan.”

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At 3 p.m., Channel 2 showed USC and Washington battling it out for last place in the Pacific 10 basketball race instead of sticking with the rain-delayed L.A. Open.

“It was a network call,” Channel 2 weekend sports producer Mike Forrest said. “In cases like this, we have no contact with the network, no forewarning. We hear exactly what the viewer at home hears.”

Forrest said the station received more than 50 complaint calls within a half hour after CBS left the golf tournament with the leaders, because of two rain delays, only on the sixth hole.

CBS cut away because it was 6 p.m. in the East, and time for local news for East Coast affiliates.

West Coast stations, meanwhile, went to less significant local programming, which, on Channel 2, was the USC-Washington game. Most viewers probably would have preferred watching the golf. Nevertheless, CBS made the decision not to stay with the golf on the West Coast. In similar situations, the networks usually make the same decision.

Neal Pilson, CBS Sports president, once asked why, offered this as one of the reasons: “The West Coast represents only about 15% of the nation’s population.”

In other words, Westerners don’t count for much.


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