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Station aired basketball game instead of State of Union address

January 20, 1999

Hagerstown's NBC-25 aired a University of Maryland men's basketball game instead of President Clinton's State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

It was the first time the television station has preempted a president's State of the Union speech, said Hugh Breslin, station vice president and general manager.

Breslin said audience reaction appears to be favorable but he doubted the station would ever do it again.

Breslin said the station showed the game instead of the speech because the station had a contractual agreement for that ball game well before the date of the speech was announced.

He said station managers also took into account that since the speech would be shown on many other channels, including public television, viewers would have the option of watching the speech on another station.

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"We felt like offering a programming alternative," he said.

Maryland's public television station broadcast the address on a delayed schedule at 11 p.m., meaning that some Tri-State area viewers without access to out-of-area stations were unable to watch the address live.

In the basketball game, fourth-ranked Maryland beat Georgia Tech 77-62.

- Dan Kulin

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