Dueling TV Station Toys

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The following appeared in the Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities. The citation is Tillotson, Kristin (1996-11-02). "Tricks or treats? Sweeps-week news - 'CCO, KARE skip real stuff". Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities.

Tricks or treats? Sweeps-week news - 'CCO, KARE skip real stuff

On Halloween night, television viewers were pelted with scary scenes designed to freak them out, augmented by flashy special effects. Unfortunately, they weren't watching a horror film - just the first night of sweeps-week 10 p.m. newscasts.

A recent spate of criticism has given local broadcasters pause - but rather than scrapping the melodrama to focus on serious issues, top-rated competitors WCCO-Ch. 4 and KARE-Ch. 11 chose to steer clear of real news.

WCCO wins the shamelessness award for mixing provincial histrionics with gratuitous stripper shots. Here's a scoop, folks: Did you know that Tijuana is a den of iniquity where Marines on liberty get into trouble? 'CCO led with a Dimension report about a young Minnesotan's dubious death there. While it's certainly a tragedy, it's not news - it happened in July.

KARE's overhyped "Extra" informed us that, lurking in ritzy hotel rooms right here in the Twin Cities are . . . Mafiosi? . . . prostitution rings? No - stained sheets! They even poked fun at their own trivial fixation by playing the song "Dirty Laundry" and the line "on a blanket with my baby" from "Under the Boardwalk."

To spice up the competition, WCCO and KARE now have dueling Jonny Quest toys: 'CCO has the "Nightscope" helicopter, at the ready to assist police in nabbing thugs and finding lost kids (it's expensive, we were informed). KARE is touting its Storm Tracker van, perfect for a little Helen Hunt role-playing.

If this continues, I'm thanking my lucky stars for those "Law and Order" reruns at 10 on A&E. They're ostensibly fiction, but they seem so much more real.

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