Dueling Channels

Jun 28 2010 Dueling Channels BY sgf-admin TAGS How the Airport Works


We received this email from Bryan last Friday...

"I recently flew into and out of the Springfield airport.  The terminal looks new and clean, and was very efficient.  However, on the televisions providing information to passengers, FOX News was showing on two.  This makes a very strong partisan statement on the part of the airport.  FOX News is not neutral – it is very offensive to many, especially those who dislike seeing lies and distortions promulgated as “news”.  Just as porn cannot be balanced by showing the BBC, so this intellectual porn – which people may certainly watch in the privacy of their own homes (or closets) – cannot be “balanced” with other news channels.  CNN is an accepted reasonably nonpartisan source of news in most other airports in this country.  If you’re looking for the best possible customer reaction to the very nice airport you’ve constructed, I suggest you dispense with FOX News.  Please let me know your television policy."

Bryan... While we understand your point-of-view concerning Fox News, the airport serves a diverse customer base of all races, religions and beliefs. In short, we serve in a democratic society which tolerates many points-of-view and individual beliefs. We are reminded of this all the time. Here are some recent examples of issues raised by people who use the airport:

  • Playboy and Maxim magazines are obscene and should not be sold in gift stores at the airport.
  • CNN. Is it appropriate for the airport to show such a “biased” news source on the terminal TVs?
  • The art glass in the new terminal. As one person put it, “…why not just take out the grotesque windows and put up a wall with some real, quality art work from local artists?”
  • In the old terminal we had several art objects which have yet to move to the new terminal. They included an abstract, geometric drawing of colored balls, and a metal sculpture in the lobby fountain. Several times a year, on our comment cards, we would find comments objecting to both. The colored balls were typically found to be “meaningless” and/or “suggestive.” Some thought the metal sculpture was a phallic symbol.
  • Fox News. Is it appropriate for the airport to show such a “biased” news source on the terminal TVs?
  • The carpet in the terminal. One fellow disliked the carpet so much he wrote the newspaper claiming that the carpet triggered his vertigo. The newspaper printed it.

There are other issues as well but you get the idea… For several years the issue of the dueling cable news channels was a recurring topic. It settled down when we made sure that each “news” outlet had equal representation. Here’s how that works: the airport has nine TVs in the terminal. Eight are in the gate areas and here’s what they show:

  • Two TVs are tuned to Fox News
  • Two TVs are tuned to CNN
  • Four TVs are tuned to Weather Channel

One TV is pre-security and it’s the orphan child: it’s tuned to Bloomberg financial. There are two TVs in the post-security restaurant but the airport does not own or control them. They are typically tuned to tell-all talk shows or the Andy Griffith Show. So far, no one has raised objection to the Weather Channel.


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