N&O: Parade organizer questions ethics of WRAL and again asks it not to broadcast the event

A letter sent Friday by the board of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association to its members questions the ethics and motives of WRAL – the former sponsor of GRMA’s Raleigh Christmas Parade – and called on the TV station to “do the right thing, do the ethical thing, do the responsible thing” and not broadcast this year’s parade.

WRAL sponsored and broadcast the parade for 43 years until losing the contract this year to rival WTVD. Still, WRAL announced in October that it plans to broadcast Saturday’s parade anyway. In the weeks since, the bad blood has continued. GRMA is not allowing WRAL-TV or WRAL-FM to have floats in the parade because they applied after the Sept. 11 deadline. GRMA also sent letters to parade participants last week banning WRAL cameras from any entries, under threat of removing those entries from the parade and banning them from future parades.

The GRMA letter laid out a number of grievances the association has with WRAL. It states that WRAL failed to live up to “certain contractual obligations” in the past. Jennifer Martin, director of the merchants association, declined to elaborate on specifics Monday, saying that the issues had been raised directly with the station.

The letter quotes from the mission statement and ethics policy of Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRAL, and says merchants should “ask yourselves whether WRAL’s actions meet those standards.”

It says that since learning on Oct. 3 that WRAL did not receive the contract, the station had “retaliated against GRMA in many ways.” It goes on to say that WRAL’s airing of the parade is “taking away viewership from the official broadcast for its own financial gain and in an effort, we believe, calculated to harm GRMA and retaliate for its loss of the parade contract.” ...

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Brent Woodcox