‘Daniel’ Pre-Empted on Two Local Stations

Jan 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Two Nexstar Broadcasting Group-owned NBC affiliates are refusing to carry “The Book of Daniel,” a series that debuts with two back-to-back episodes Friday on NBC and features Jesus as a character who chats with a pill-popping Episcopal minister.

KARK-TV in Little Rock, Ark., and WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Ind., have posted notices on their Web sites informing viewers of their decisions.

KARK’s statement says: “After careful consideration, watching the program and most importantly listening to our viewers and engaging them in dialogue, we have decided not to air the NBC program ‘The Book of Daniel’ this Friday night. We appreciate hearing from so many of our viewers, who expressed their heartfelt opinions on both sides of the issue.”

On WTWO’s Web site, the statement says: “WTWO Listens to Valley Viewers. Due to e-mails and calls from viewers, WTWO will not be airing NBC’s ‘The Book of Daniel.'”

NBC said in a statement: “‘The Book of Daniel’ is a fictional drama about an Episcopalian priest’s family and the contemporary issues with which they must grapple. We’re confident that once audiences view this quality drama themselves, they’ll appreciate this thought-provoking examination of one American family.”

Little Rock WB affiliate KWBF-TV will carry the two-hour debut at 8 p.m. Friday, according to the programming schedule on the station’s Web site.

WTWO General Manager Duane Lammers, who also is executive VP and chief operating officer of Nexstar, was not immediately available for comment.

An NBC spokesperson said Thursday that there has been no further word of “Daniel” pre-emptions.

There was a flood of repetitive “hate e-mails and hate phone calls” at Little Rock WB affiliate KWBF, whose general manager Neal Ardman said he is pre-empting a repeat episode of The WB’s “Beauty & The Geek” with The WB’s blessing in order to carry “Daniel” at 8 p.m. (CT) Friday night. (“Geek” will repeat late Sunday afternoon.)

Mr. Ardman read one e-mail from a man who identified himself as a pastor and said he was ready to “draw a line in the sand” at such displays of “anti-Christian bigotry.”

“I’ve seen both [debut] hours and if I were to describe if it I would say it’s ‘Touched by an Angel’ meets ‘Desperate Housewives’ with a touch of ‘The Sopranos,’ ” Mr. Ardman said.

The general manager said he had received “not one positive thank you for carrying the show,” but he said he will carry “every episode NBC allows me to” after the conclusion of the regular Friday WB lineup by pre-empting an episode of locally scheduled “Hawaii Five-0.”

Mr. Ardman also is ready to draw a line in the sand. “As a population, we need to first of all vote with our remotes, and I think TV stations that bow down to demands of special interest groups are ridiculous.”