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Thorn in Their Sides: Stations at Odds Over Parade : Television: KTLA says KTTV’s ‘commercial-free broadcast’ claim is bunk. KTTV insists that its ‘informal’ mentions of sponsors do not constitute a commercial.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Tournament of Roses Parade has provoked a stink between two local TV stations that will broadcast the event live on New Year’s Day. What smells, according to KTLA Channel 5, is KTTV Channel 11’s claim that it will air the annual pageant “without any commercials whatsoever.”

KTTV’s parade broadcast will be sponsored by several major corporations that will pay to be mentioned and thanked at the beginning and end of the 2 1/2-hour program, said Don Tillman, KTTV’s vice president of programming.

The dispute is one of semantics over what will happen every half hour in between. Tillman conceded that four times during the course of the parade, the Channel 11 hosts will explain that viewers are seeing the parade without commercial interruptions because of the cooperation of the sponsors--who will be named.

“It will be very informal,” he said. “They might say, ‘And if you are enjoying the telecast, you might want to drop them a note.’ ”

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Tillman said that there will be no visual identification of the sponsors superimposed on the screen over the parade scene, as the station has done in the past. KTLA also uses that approach, superimposing the logos of its sponsors over the picture while the hosts read a brief ad.

Tillman insisted that KTTV’s “informal” mentions of the sponsors do not constitute a commercial.

Channel 5 thinks otherwise. “It’s very deceptive and misleading,” said Ed Harrison, KTLA’s spokesman. “These sponsors are still paying for that mention. It is an advertisement. True, it may not be a traditional commercial that we are all used to seeing. It’s not a hard sell, but it is a paid corporate endorsement. If they say there’s going to be absolutely no commercials, then they should be fair about it and not have any commercials. This is just another one of their gimmicks.”

Tillman, whose station broadcast the parade in 3-D two years ago, would not say how much the sponsors are paying to be a part of KTTV’s coverage. But when asked if the station would lose any money, he replied: “I certainly hope not. That’s not what I’m here for.

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“The sad part about this whole thing,” Tillman added, “is that this is something that is a real sincere gesture to our viewers and a real good-faith effort on the part of our sponsors, and our competitor is trying to make it look like something that is evil and ugly.”

KTLA is also miffed about one of KTTV’s promos for its so-called “commercial-free” broadcast that purports to show what the parade telecast looks like on other stations. A sign emblazoned with a big fish advertising “Fishman’s Fish Market” is then flashed on the screen, blocking the view of the parade in the background. Hal Fishman, of course, is KTLA’s news anchor.

“It’s pretty funny,” said KTLA’s Harrison. “But it is a cheap shot, and even worse, it’s inaccurate. We don’t block any part of the parade. The visual logos are shown very discreetly on the bottom third of the screen. They don’t interrupt anything.”

The Rose Parade will also be telecast live beginning at 8 a.m. on Channels 2, 4 and 7 and on Spanish-language station KMEX Channel 34.

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Last year, KTLA clobbered KTTV and all other stations in parade ratings, grabbing about 1.1 million households in the Los Angeles area and 46% of all those watching television at the time. That was more than the combined audience of KTTV and the other four local stations broadcasting the parade.


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