WCAU had a planned debate between Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney (pictured) and Republican Melissa Murray Bailey, but ended up canceling it after one of the candidates made “unreasonable demands”.
The Kenney campaign acted like he was a rock star had submitted a six-page “memorandum of understanding” that would have made Justin Bieber proud.
The document had 60 prerequisites for the debate, dictating everything from camerawork, the number and size of dressing rooms each campaign would be assigned, and how many bottles of water each candidate would receive (two, for the record).
The Kenney campaign said that the document was intended to keep focus on “the issues” and that other television stations had agreed to the requirements. Both campaigns had signed off on the agreement.
WCAU station managers notified both campaigns that, in their view, the demands were excessive, citing a specific restriction on camerawork at the debate — that there would be no “cut-aways” to reactions of a candidate while an opposing candidate was answering a question.
After two weeks of fruitless negotiations, Williams, in an email, told both campaigns that the station would be withdrawing “due to demands of the Kenney Campaign.”
“We gave NBC10 the better part of two weeks to come up for some alternatives,” Hitt said of the camera angle demands. “Another TV station that has higher ratings than NBC10 had no problem with our [memorandum].”
She said the campaign also discussed the MOU’s demands with other television executives and none of them saw it as a deal breaker.
“NBC10 never had a real excuse other than it made for more interesting TV,” Hitt said.