Local stations air Obama’s speech

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Many local television stations across the country carried President Obama’s primetime immigration address live Thursday even as major networks said they would stick with regular programming. 

Reports on social media showed that Obama’s speech aired live on all or most local television stations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Raleigh and Washington, among other cities. 

{mosads}Major networks including ABC, CBS and FOX confirmed that Obama’s speech would not be aired on their networks, while cable news and Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo would.

A network source told The Hill that the White House did not officially request the prime-time coverage, which falls during the monthlong sweeps period where networks vie for viewers and better ratings. 

A White House official downplayed the fact the networks wouldn’t air the speech, telling The Hill that the White House was “confident” the address would get “ample attention” from the media.

Appearing on CNN within hours of Obama’s 8 p.m. address, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer suggested that White House officials intentionally scheduled the address because it would not be carried by major networks but covered on other, more popular platforms. 

“We picked the time and place of this address knowing that it was unlikely the networks would break away from the dramas and comedies they were showing in sweeps week,” Pfeiffer said, adding that they expected most to watch the address on “their laptops, their smartphones and their tablets.”

The video of Obama sitting against the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office announcing his prime-time address, posted to Facebook on Wednesday, garnered 3.34 million views, more than 53,000 shares and reached more than 16 million users before the actual speech aired, White House spokesman Eric Schultz pointed out on Twitter.

“That’s how we think about communications — when will people gather and watch something, not just on television, but on their mobile device,” Pfeiffer told CNN.

However, the White House did show network appreciation for coverage from Univision, whose vice president, Borja Echevarría, was quick to announce on Twitter that the president’s address would be carried live. 

“Great timing,” Pfeiffer tweeted after it was noted the network would cut away at the beginning of the second hour of the Latin Grammy awards to air Obama’s address to around 10 million viewers.

Viewers of local networks that opted to stick with regularly scheduled programming over airing specials with Obama saw “The Biggest Loser” on NBC, “Bones” on FOX and the mid-season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC. 

Multiple local broadcast networks reportedly aired Obama’s speech in Las Vegas, where Obama will travel Friday to promote his executive order giving legal status to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally. 

“Every event we do would be better off if all the networks did worldwide coverage of it, that would be wonderful. We don’t expect that. We have a lot of ways of getting our message out,” Pfeiffer said.

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