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For ABC, broadcasting Miss America Pageant is a big news story

January 12, 2013|By Joe Flint
  • ABC's "Nightline" helps promote the network's Miss America broadcast.
ABC's "Nightline" helps promote the network's… (ABC News )

On Friday, this space took NBC to task for going overboard in using its news division to promote entertainment programming and vice versa.

So it seems only fair to shine a light on ABC and its efforts to hype its Saturday telecast of the Miss America pageant. Not only did ABC's "Nightline" run a lengthy feature on the pageant during Friday night's edition of "Nightline," but also scheduled for Saturday is a full episode of "20/20" devoted to the event an hour before the broadcast.

To be sure, when it comes to networks risking the credibility of their news units by using them to promote their own entertainment shows, that horse left the barn a long time ago.

But now the horse is on its fifth lap around the farm. The practice has become so accepted that media critics rarely raise eyebrows about it anymore.

Perhaps they should. The resources used for stories to promote a network's entertainment fare takes dollars away from more substantial pieces. No one is suggesting that ABC not be allowed to air an hourlong program aimed at increasing awareness for the Miss America contest. The question is whether it is necessary to do that program through the news division and its "20/20" show.

News has gotten soft enough without also turning it into an infomercial.


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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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