From - Demonstrators protest anti-gay-rights program aired by WFLA-Ch. 8

Demonstrators protest anti-gay-rights program aired by WFLA-Ch. 8

By Ileana Morales, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Jul 15, 2009 07:54 PM

TAMPA — Gay rights advocates showed up with red shirts and matching flags in protest of WFLA-Ch. 8's hourlong anti-gay-rights segment aired the night of St. Petersburg's Gay Pride parade.

The crowd of about 70 demonstrators cheered at the rush hour drivers on W Kennedy Boulevard honking. They chanted, "Shame, shame, Channel 8. Make your money and spread your hate."

They wanted an apology.

The American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization that opposes gay rights, paid WFLA to air a segment called, "Speechless: Silencing the Christians."

Protesters arrived in red in response to a WFLA executive who was quoted in the Tampa Tribune saying the program did not "raise a red flag."

In a prepared statement e-mailed from WFLA, John Schueler, president of Florida Communications Group, the company that oversees Media General's area outlets, including theTribune and WFLA-Ch. 8 said:

"Our overriding mission is to provide platforms for the broadest points of view and be responsible to the community we serve. We understand that doing so can cause strong disagreement. We screened this program and ran a disclaimer before and after it ran noting that this does not reflect the views of WFLA."

R. Zeke Fread, an organizer with Pride Tampa Bay, said he watched 10 minutes of the program on June 27, and couldn't stand any more, calling it an infomercial.

"It was like a 180 slap in your face," said GaYbor District Coalition president Carrie West.

Signs around West read: "News Channel H8, integrity at what price? $35,000."

Another sign put the NBC peacock over a swastika.

Ileana Morales can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.


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