Trip to the beach lands NBC affiliate in hot water over junket policy

BOSTON: Yet another controversy surrounding the hot-button issue of press junkets bubbled to the surface last week, as a Boston-based NBC affiliate was accused of violating a recently enacted network-wide policy forbidding journalists to accept free meals, lodging or transportation.

BOSTON: Yet another controversy surrounding the hot-button issue of press junkets bubbled to the surface last week, as a Boston-based NBC affiliate was accused of violating a recently enacted network-wide policy forbidding journalists to accept free meals, lodging or transportation.

BOSTON: Yet another controversy surrounding the hot-button issue of

press junkets bubbled to the surface last week, as a Boston-based NBC

affiliate was accused of violating a recently enacted network-wide

policy forbidding journalists to accept free meals, lodging or

transportation.



Local NBC outlet WHDH was criticized for airing an exclusive interview

with Leonardo DiCaprio conducted in Hawaii by entertainment reporter

Sara Edwards. 20th Century Fox, which released DiCaprio’s latest opus,

The Beach, paid Edwards’ expenses. The trip was in apparent violation of

a new NBC policy, enacted Jan. 1, urging all affiliates to pay for their

own travel and transport costs for such assignments.



WHDH director of press Ro Dooley responded to accusations that the

station had deliberately contravened the policy by claiming that the

interview had been recorded months before the new edict went into

effect. She also suggested that the issue had probably been raised by

competitors eager to discredit the station’s exclusive with DiCaprio,

which was heavily promoted during the mid-February sweeps period.



’We think a rival station tried to make an issue out of this,’ Dooley

said. ’The DiCaprio interview was recorded in advance of the new

policy.’



Still, one Hollywood film publicist said a policy like the one enacted

by NBC is unlikely to have much of an effect. ’The reality is, this is

the most efficient way to conduct these interviews. The entertainment

industry is not about hard-core reporting. This is the only way these

stations would get access - the star would not come to the local

stations.’



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