The Highest Form of Flattery? WNCT Airs Nearly Identical Promo as WCVB

By Andrew Gauthier 

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The side-by-side comparison is striking: two promos, one from Boston’s WCVB and the other from WNCT in eastern North Carolina, that both hype an upcoming series titled “Assignment: Afghanistan” using a nearly identical script.

In February, WCVB’s Sean Kelly traveled to Kabul and reported on the work of a Massachusetts National Guard unit. Now, WNCT’s Chris Brown is in Afghanistan on a similar assignment.  So what gives?

It turns out that WNCT’s mirror-image promo, first reported by the blog I Do Promoz, was the product of a simple misunderstanding.

TVSpy spoke with WNCT news director Martin Van Housen who said that Brown first made the request in January, well before Kelly traveled to Kabul.

“As part of his beat, Chris covers the military, in particular Camp Lejeune,” Van Housen said via email. “Camp Lejeune takes over control of the Afghanistan war effort in March and as that happens, the thousands of local marines already stationed in Afghanistan will be joined by many, many more from our viewing area. We believe it is very timely to make the trip now.

So how did WNCT’s promo end up being so similar to WCVB’s? Van Housen said that he hadn’t known of the connection but a spokesperson for the Boston ABC-affiliate was able to provide an answer.

It turns out that Brown, as part of his preparation for making the trip, reached out to Kelly for advice. It was an informal sharing of ideas as Kelly gave Brown suggestions about equipment and travel.  As part of their conversations, Kelly shared some WCVB materials with Brown.

“There was a misunderstanding about what material of our’s that they could use,” said the WCVB spokesperson.

WNCT’s series is now titled “From the Frontline” and Brown is in Afghanistan, currently one day away from meeting with Camp Lejeune marines.