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Spokane news station being probed after airing pornographic video during weather report

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Talk about getting all wet, a local news station in Washington state reportedly played a pornographic video on-screen behind a meteorologist during the Sunday evening newscast as the weather forecast was being reported.

The sexually explicit video played about 10 seconds on KREM-TV during the 6 p.m. newscast before it was removed, according to the Spokane Police Department. Viewers called the police to report the incident.

The department’s special victims unit is investigating the origin of the video and how it allegedly ended up onscreen during the dinner hour, the Spokesman-Review reported.

Spokane Police Department spokesperson Julie Humphreys said Monday that detectives have yet to determine if the incident was criminal and that the KREM staff was cooperating with the investigation.

Anne Bentley, vice president and chief communications officer at TEGNA, KREM 2’s parent company, told the newspaper in an email that the station apologized to viewers in its 11 p.m. news broadcast.

“We apologized to our viewers last night during our 11 p.m. newscast – Those of us here at KREM 2 want to apologize for something that happened in our 6 p.m. newscast tonight. An inappropriate video aired in the first part of the show. We are diligently working to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Bentley wrote on behalf of KREM 2.

Ya’ think?

The Spokesman-Review also reported that the station could face significant fines from the Federal Communications Commission, citing a similar incident in 2012 at a news station in Roanoke.

The FCC ruled that WDBJ (Channel 7) violated federal law by airing “indecent programming from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience,” according to the Roanoke Times. The station was eventually fined $325,000 for the incident, reportedly the highest fine ever at the time for a single indecent broadcast.

In that incident, WDBJ was reporting on a former adult film star who had joined a local volunteer rescue squad and the station showed an image of a sexually-explicit video taken from a website during that report, the FCC said in a news release.

Daniel Walters, who covers City Hall for the Inlander, commented on the incident in a series of tweets.

“It’s a very strange clip — so strange I thought it might have been a hoax when I first saw it,” he wrote, including s screenshot. “Nobody on screen seems to react, and it takes shockingly long before they cut away. (I’ve blurred the image, obviously). Like, when my computer started playing the ‘Oompa Loompa’ song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at full volume at work I reacted a lot faster.”

“I’m very curious about how this happens,” he would add. “Was this intended to be another video and someone saved over it? Did someone copy-and-paste the wrong URL? Was this a horrifying goof-up (generally the safest bet) or intentional sabotage? Internal or external?”

So many questions, so few answers as of yet.

Tom Tillison

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