Soap opera fans were foaming at the mouth Tuesday over congressional hearings into the Iran- contra affair, aired by the three networks between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
They were not bubbling with rage over details of a possible political scandal, however. The hearings had preempted their favorite soaps.
In Los Angeles, the three networks and their local affiliates received more than 4,000 calls from viewers who were outraged that politics had taken precedence over "One Life to Live," "As the World Turns" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."
"They vented their spleen on our operators," said a representative of ABC, which received about 1,800 irate calls at the network and its local outlet, KABC-TV Channel 7.
CBS and KCBS-TV Channel 2 received more than 700 complaints.
NBC and KNBC-TV Channel 4 logged a total of 1,659 complaints. Of those, 918 asked about a favorite soap (551 asked specifically about "Days of Our Lives"); 714 wanted to know what the hearings were doing on the air.
The phenomenon was nationwide. In New York, NBC News reported more than 1,000 complaints, while ABC News and WCBS-TV logged about 400 each. Even in Washington, not everyone was intrigued by the hearings. The CBS affiliate there received 400 complaints; the NBC affiliate, 150; and the ABC affiliate, 120.
NBC in Los Angeles noted that one viewer called to express pleasure at the opportunity to see the hearings.