Local television stations say that relatively few viewers complained about the cancellation of their favorite shows because of network coverage of the Persian Gulf war.
NBC, CBS and ABC resumed regular programming yesterday afternoon after providing round-the-clock coverage of the war since Wednesday night. But all three broke into their schedules for special reports and regular news updates.
WBAL-TV (Channel 11), the CBS affiliate, received about 30 calls yesterday morning from people asking, "Where are my soaps?" said Joseph Heston, vice president and station manager. But he said callers were "not clogging the switchboard."
"We've had more calls [about interruptions in programming] in cases where the story is not so compelling, like a press conference about a presidential veto of a bill," he said.
Mr. Heston also said callers were more polite about the decision to pre-empt regular shows for the war coverage, saying they did not use the "same tone" or "pointed, colorful" language that he had heard in similar instances in the past.
WMAR-TV (Channel 2), the NBC affiliate, has received "less than 50" complaint calls, according to Emily Barr, director of broadcast operations.
"We haven't been overwhelmed," she said. "I would say, given the seriousness of the situation, most people are understanding" about the need to provide extensive coverage, she said.
WJZ-TV (Channel 13), the ABC affiliate, puts the number of calls it received in the hundreds. But spokeswoman Phyllis Reese said the complaints were split into two groups: those who felt the extensive war coverage was "depressing," as well as depriving them of their soap operas, and those who "didn't want to see the peace demonstrations."
Yesterday afternoon, about 50 callers complained because continuous coverage of the war had ended, she said. Channels 11 and 2 also reported similar complaints.