KPRC Local 2 general manager Jerry Martin wrote a letter of apology online to Houston Formula One fans concerning the station's decision not to run Monaco Grand Prix coverage.
As I wrote Sunday, F1 fans were very angry with KPRC since the NBC affilate did not air the race and went after the station on its Facebook pages.
Here is the letter:
"I wanted to let you know that we heard from many Formula One fans this weekend regarding our decision to air our local news in lieu of the Monaco Grand Prix. We will reevaluate the decision for next year's race. That evaluation will not only be based off ratings data, but also the amount of viewer confusion caused by not airing the race after NBC promotes the coverage heavily in their programming.
Our rationale for not airing the race was based on KPRC being a "news comes first" local television station, which includes holiday weekends. That is why you will see us break into popular programming to air breaking news or severe weather alerts. We also took into account the Houston market under indexes in the national ratings when it comes to motor sports; and, the race was available live via the web and on a delayed basis on NBC Sports Network. I know this rationale does little to assuage your emotions regarding this matter since you are fans of F1, however, I do understand what it means to be a fan of racing. In my past, I was on the Indy 500 Festival Board and attended the race every year, and in some years with a pace car. I also went to the F1 races in Indy and witnessed firsthand the passion of F1 fans.
So I can honestly tell you we will give it very close assessment for 2014-2016 races and make our decision public well in advance of the race.
Also, we are airing the Formula One Race (Canada) on Tuesday June 9 at 1 p.m., the Formula One (USA, Austin, TX) on November 17 at 12:30 p.m. and Formula One (Brazil) on November 24 at 10 a.m."
We'll see if racing fans forgive the station. So far the comments beneath the letter are negative.
"News comes first" huh? So infomericals pre-empt one of the greatest live sporting events of the year. Makes tons of sense. You made the wrong decision and alienated many of your viewers," wrote commenter Doug Carroll on click2houston.com.
The Austin American-Statesman has reported on KPRC's decision not to air the race:
A spokesperson with NBC Sports said KPRC was the only major market not to air the race.
“The decision lies with the station, however, the network is disappointed the race did not air in Houston,” the spokesperson said.