Channel Surfing
By Laura Nachman
Bucks County Courier Times
August 15, 2001

Here’s which stations scored and which stations dropped the ball during the “terrain out” of the Eagles/Ravens game at Veterans stadium Monday night.  

WB17 immediately fumbled at 7:30, as viewers expecting to catch a game, instead received a “Drew Carey Show” rerun with no explanation, until a crawler ran ten minutes into the show.  At 8 PM, game announcers Kenny Albert and Ron Jaworski told the television audience that the game wasn’t going to happen that night.  By 8:15, WB17 was playing a “7th Heaven” rerun already in progress, followed by “Angel” at 9PM.  Crawlers continued each half hour. When the news aired at 10 PM, the Eagles were the top news story, but WB17 fumbled again as their live trucks weren’t working and couldn’t go to reports from Vet Stadium in the first segment of the newscast.  The night was a big letdown for WB17, as the Eagles preseason games garner some of the highest ratings of the year for the station.

Meanwhile on Fox-Philadelphia, Don Tollefson did a live report from the stadium with no technical problems.  Channels 6 and 10 also featured live reports from Veterans stadium with no problems.

Comcast Sportsnet had the most thorough coverage of the story.  It expanded its normal 60-minute “SportsNight” half an hour, providing almost 90 minutes of coverage anchored by Neil Hartman and Leslie Gudel, with reports from Dei Lynam, Scott Hanson, and Ray Didinger.   

All the local newscasts predicted that the national media would have a field day with the story, and they were correct.  The sorry history of the Vet and its Astroturf was explained on CNN’s “Sports Tonight” at 11 PM with Fred Hickman. The story included Hickman reading an email from a disgruntled Philadelphian. ESPN’s “Sportscenter,” which followed the Tampa Bay/Miami exhibition game, was tougher on Philadelphia than CNN.  The conditions at the Vet was the topic of the “Sportscenter Spotlight” feature, devoting almost five minutes to the mishaps over the years, including clips of the rail collapse during the Army/Navy game in 1998, and many players getting hurt. 

And the “hard knocks” will continue.  Since the Eagles were hosting Baltimore, who is the subject of the HBO series “Hard Knocks:  Training Camp with the Baltimore Ravens,” a national audience will get the inside story Wednesday at 11 PM on HBO.