MPBN apologizes for debate problems

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 17, 2008, at 7:38 p.m.

A Maine Public Broadcasting Network official apologized Friday for the poor broadcast quality of Thursday’s live debate between U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, and Republican challenger John Frary of Farmington.

Televised on all MBPN stations at 8 p.m. Thursday, the program’s satellite link was badly flawed, said Joe Riley, vice president and director of television for MPBN.

Organizers from both campaigns as well as viewers were right to be critical of what they saw, he said.

“There was a problem that we thought was fixed early that triggered another that we couldn’t ID until we were on the air,” Riley said. “We are actually embarrassed that the broadcast was marred in this way.”

The picture was blank for most of the debate and large gaps occurred in the audio, said Robert Shaffer, a paid consultant for Frary’s campaign.

“I have received over 50 e-mails today complaining of the broadcast,” Shaffer said Friday. “Apparently the radio feed worked fine, but that was about it.”

The Michaud campaign also heard some complaints, said Monica Castellanos, the congressman’s press secretary.

Frary and Michaud took the technical miscues in stride, their representatives said. Neither they nor their representatives were aware of the broadcast blackouts until the next day. Frary, Shaffer said, answered the news with typical aplomb.

“It could be worse. We were, after all, up against the Red Sox,” Frary joked.

As Boston was playing the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series, the hourlong debate featured Frary and Michaud, both candidates for state’s 2nd Congressional District, fielding questions from MPBN moderators Jennifer Rooks and A.J. Higgins.

Both sides gave their candidates high marks in the debate.

“He was wonderful,” Shaffer said. “No one watching the debate would not have assumed that he [Frary] was not the incumbent. It was vintage Frary, by turns serious and satirical.”

“I think the congressman did very well,” Castellanos said. “He is running on a record that we are very proud of.”

The debate will be rebroadcast without the flaws at 4 p.m. Sunday on MPBN, Riley said.

“It wasn’t taped off the broadcast so none of the difficulties that occurred are on the tape. We should be able to replay it without difficulties,” he said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/10/17/news/mpbn-apologizes-for-debate-problems/ printed on April 16, 2014