When Sports Get Knocked Off The Air.

Right now, a serious wildfire is threatening to burn all of Malibu — it’s already burned Castle Kasdan, and Pepperdine University’s been evacuated. What this means is that Los Angeles-area folk aren’t getting an NFL game on CBS (at least LA Observed says that all local stations save Fox are on the fire) and the NASCAR race on ABC has also been pre-empted for breaking news coverage.

UPDATE: CBS affiliate is showing Chiefs-Raiders; they knocked the fire coverage over to KCAL, which they also own.

This isn’t sitting particularly well with the few commenters on a thread about this topic as it pertains to the NASCAR race over at the FanHouse:

2. I guess I should not be surprised that we West coast fans are getting screwed by ABC/ESPN. FOX is currently showing the NFL game. I guess they figure that the ten other channels covering the fire are adequate for those who want to watch non-stop coverage of Malibu burning. I have sent my email complaint to ESPN. I hope everyone else affected by this will do the same. Not that they care!

7. ABC really sucks by showing the fire coverage and not the NASCAR race…who cares if Malibu is burning upl…it happens every year

9. Remind me to erase ch.7 from my remote and remove all their sponsors as well

Author “Tallglassofmilk” gets it right: this is on ESPN to have a contingency plan for these sorts of things, but sometimes you get screwed. However, the commenters are, as usual for most of the AOL FanHouse crowd, short-sighted. Just because every other channel is showing fire coverage doesn’t mean you should be able to see the sporting event when it comes on.

If any of the local broadcast channels with serious news departments don’t show the fire coverage as it threatens to destroy a prominent community and provide evacuation information, they’re not doing their job, plain and simple. L.A. viewers will probably not be able to watch Sunday Night Football, either, as I suspect KNBC will be holding down the fort on this for most of the evening.

(UPDATE #2: The Sunday nighter between the Steelers-Broncos went off without a hitch on L.A.’s NBC station — I was told they axed the pre-game.)

Despite the cracks we make about corporate-owned media and the truths behind it, local news stations who don’t dump sports for a major fire like this when it happens and threatens homes and businesses (never mind a university) aren’t serving the public interest, so get over your game being pre-empted.