Community outrage at paid program on WFLA

06/29/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

Members of the Tampa Bay Area’s LGBT community are outraged at WFLA, Newschannel 8, for their airing a paid program Saturday night that critics say contained open hate speech against gays and lesbians.

“Speechless: Silencing Christians” is produced by the American Family Association, and is related to a similar titled book written by that group’s leader, the Reverend Don Wildmon. The hour-long show is narrated by conservative talk show host Janet Parshall.

WFLA reportedly received more than a thousand phone calls and e-mails protesting the decision to broadcast the program.

On Saturday afternoon, the gay rights advocacy group Equality Florida sent out an e-mail alert to its members in the Tampa Bay area, telling them to call News Channel 8 to protest the airing of the broadcast. The program aired Saturday, the same day that a reported 80,000 people participated in the gay pride festival in St. Petersburg.

WMNF attempted today to speak with WFLA’s General Manager and President, Mike Pumo. We were told that he is away on vacation. Pumo did speak to the Tampa Tribune Saturday night, and admitted that the show did have a controversial viewpoint, but said it had not “raised a red flag’ during the vetting process.

Equality Florida’s Brian Winfield says his organization is considering ways to further demonstrate their displeasure with WFLA, and with their corporate parent, Media General.

WFLA did not return our phone call for comment by airtime.

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