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URL 9: Fast Freddy Vance’s Letter to the FCC Dated August 28, 1971

URL 9: Fast Freddy Vance’s Letter to the FCC Dated August 28, 1971 (In Chapter 13, page 64. 1,567 words. Cum 4,039 words)

Dear Mr. Ray: This will respond to your letter of August 10, 1971, regarding a written complaint dated August 2, 1971, from Professor Donald W. Hendon of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. This is the second complaint by Professor Hendon against KSHO-TV. The first was a letter dated April 2, 1971, which was forwarded by you to us on May 14, 1971, and to which we responded on June 3, 1971. (Your reference 8310-A, CA-882.)

In his August 2 letter, Professor Hendon charges that on July 30, 1971, at approximately 9:05 pm, KSHO-TV abridged the entertainment portion of a network football game in order to insert local commercial material. Specifically, he states that during a network station break KSHO-TV ran three 30-second commercials for Collins Brothers, for a second sponsor whom he did not identify, and for Seven-Up; and that at the end of the Seven-Up commercial the station rejoined the network late, while the announcer was already talking and after some game action had been missed. KSHO-TV categorially denies these charges.

I assured your office in my letter of June 3, that KSHO-TV does not presently follow the practice of inserting local commercial material into network sports broadcasts so as to abridge entertainment content. With reference to this assurance, Professor Hendon states: “I officially charge Fred Vance with lying to you.”

This defamatory charge was made with no prior attempt to contact this station to ascertain the true facts. Furthermore, although we specifically asked in our June 3 letter (with a copy to Professor Hendon) that he supply us with copies of any further correspondence he might choose to engage in with the Commission concerning KSHO-TV, he did not send us a copy of his August 2 complaint. We first received that complaint when it was forwarded to us from your office.

We enclose with this letter copies of applicable portions of the KSHO-TV program log for July 30, 1971, covering the period of the game in question; and the ABC-TV teletype message detailing the format for the game.

It will be noted from the teletype format that a 63-second local station break was scheduled at the end of the third quarter of the game. It will further be noted from the program log that this station break occurred at 9:05 pm and that the material broadcast during the break consisted of three 20-second commercials for Collins Brothers, Seven-Up, and the Fox Theater, and a three-second station identification announcement. Thus, the total local material inserted during the break was 63 seconds in length, and there was no abridgement by KSHO-TV of the entertainment portion of the network broadcast.

Neither Collins Brothers nor Seven-Up has any 30-second commercials on the KSHO-TV studio premises, so there is no possibility that these commercials could have been other than 20 seconds in length, as logged. I have questioned the duty director, and he specifically remembers that he rejoined the network on time. Our operations director, who watched the program at home, verifies that he could tell from the program content that the station rejoined the network on time. I did not see the break myself.

Professor Hendon states in his letter that “the teams had exchanged the ball at the time that the network broke for station identification.” Actually, as is apparent from the ABC teletype format and the station log, the break occurred at the end of the third quarter of the game, when the rules call for the officials to stop play while the teams exchanged positions on the field. Professor Hendon states that, when the station returned to the network, “It was right in the middle of the announcer’s voice and in the second down of the new series.” It is possible it was second down, if the quarter ended after first down. As your office undoubtedly knows, it is standard procedure in televised football games for the officials on the field to await a cue from the network before resuming play after a station break. Therefore, it is difficult to see how abridgement of play action as charged by Professor Hendon could have occurred. It is the recollection of our duty director and operations director that they did not occur. So far as I am aware the station received no complaints (other than Professor Hendon’s complaint, forwarded from the Commission) that the events he charges did occur.

While perhaps of no consequence, it may be noted that Professor Hendon states in his letter that the last of the three local commercials was the one for Seven-Up. That is inconsistent with the station log, which shows the Seven-Up commercial second and a commercial for Fox Theater last. Our duty director states that it is possible that the Seven-Up commercial ran last, since the other two are video tapes and possibly had been dubbed together on one reel. However, he believes that the commercials ran in the order in which they were logged.

In summary, Professor Hendon charges that on July 30, 1971, at approximately 9:05 pm, KSHO-TV returned to network entertainment programming late from a local station break in order to accommodate excess commercials. It is perfectly clear that he is wrong on the facts. KSHO-TV did not do that.

It is nothing short of irresponsible for Professor Hendon to have made this charge to the Commission without any prior attempt to ascertain the facts from this station, and without even sending a copy of his communication to this station so that we might know what charge was being made. He has made pointed assertions that I have been untruthful in representations to the Commission. These are personally embarrassing to me as a life-lone broadcaster who regards seriously the obligation of truthfulness in representations to the Commission. They are embarrassing to this station, which I serve as General Manager.

I am aware that this Commission has no jurisdiction over Professor Hendon, who is neither a broadcaster nor a licensee. However, the University of Nevada, a public institution with a responsibility to the people of this state, does have jurisdiction over him. I am sending a copy of my letter to the University so that it may be fully advised.

Professor Hendon has made unsubstantiated, derogatory charges about KSHO-TV to our federal regulatory agency, and has specifically asked that our license be revoked. Some of this correspondence has been on University of Nevada letterhead. He has made similar charges to KSHO-TV’s advertisers, also on University letterhead, and has referred to a “survey” he made of doubtful methodology and accuracy, as a University project. In light of these activities, it is strange to find him complaining to the Commission about KSHO-TV “trying to put pressure on the University of Nevada to get (him) fired.”

KSHO-TV has put no “pressure” on the University of Nevada to get Professor Hendon “fired.” It has called Professor Hendon’s activities to the attention of the University, for which it makes no apology; and it will continue to see that the University is informed.

Professor Hendon’s letter of August 2 indicates, in the last few lines of paragraph three, that he may have had some prior correspondence with the Commission charging that KSHO-TV has tried to get him fired. No copies of any such correspondence have been supplied to this station. However, since the letter even goes so far as to refer to an investigation of charges, I am here supplying the facts about contacts by KSHO-TV with the University concerning Professor Hendon.

So far as I am aware, there have been only two such contacts to UNLV prior to this letter. Neither was for the express purpose of complaining about Professor Hendon, although in each case the representative of KSHO-TV expressed displeasure concerning his activities, particularly the “survey” which he was circulating as a University project.

One such instance occurred during the course of an interview of a University official by a KSHO-TV stockholder as part of the community problems survey associated withou5 license renewal application. The other was a response by a different KSHO-TV stockholder to a request by the University Chief Television Engineer that the station donate to the university certain used camera equipment.

In neither instance did the KSHO-TV representative ask that Professor Hendon be fired. We were unaware until we received the Professor’s latest letter that the University had raised any question about his continued employment. If that has happened, it is a product of his irresponsible activities, and not of any “pressure” by KSHO-TV. What, if any, action the University takes with regard to Professor Hendon is a matter for the University to decide.

We are unaware of why Professor Hendon has undertaken what apparently is a vendetta against KSHO-TV. He has solicited this station to retain him for research projects, and possibly our refusal has precipitated some of his correspondence.

He has a right, of course, to criticize; but he has an obligation also to get his facts straight. In both his April 2 and his August 2 letters to the Commission, he has made major factual errors going to the heart of his criticism, that KSHO-TV inserts local commercials over the entertainment portion of network programs. KSHO-TV again asserts that it does not now do this and will not do it in the future.

Sincerely yours, Fred L. Vance, Vice President and General Manager. Enclosures. Cc: President, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Professor Donald W. Hendon

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