A Fox affiliate in North Carolina chose not to air Monday’s “Who’s Your Daddy?” reality special, which angered adoption advocates with its premise of an adopted daughter trying to guess her birth father’s identity for a $100,000 prize.
Despite a plea by the National Council for Adoption for stations to spike the special, WRAZ-TV in Raleigh-Durham was the only one of 182 affiliates to pull the show featuring a woman and her father who had been simultaneously searching for one another.
On the pretaped show, the woman was presented with eight potential dads. She won the money if she pinpointed her birth father; if she picked the wrong man, the impostor would win it.
Producers said the special was a “positive experience” for both the woman and her father, and urged viewers not to prejudge it.
“The special was thoroughly vetted by our standards and practices department to ensure that it was appropriate for broadcast,” said Scott Grogin, Fox spokesman. “However, any network affiliate that feels the programming may be inappropriate for their individual market has the right to pre-empt the schedule.”
WRAZ-TV will instead air an independently produced film, “I Have Roots and Branches ... Personal Reflections on Adoption,” produced by a woman with an adopted child who interviewed adoptive families about their experiences.
“We just don’t think adoption is a game show,” said Tommy Schenck, WRAZ-TV general manager. He said he was not influenced by the protests.
The North Carolina station has pre-empted Fox’s reality programming three times in the past, for “Married by American,” “Temptation Island” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.”
Another station manager who is airing the show said he had received three e-mails complaining about it. Bill Lamb, general manager of WDRB-TV in Louisville, Kentucky, said the network didn’t make the show available for him to see in advance and he didn’t want to judge it sight unseen.
“I think it’s just another one in a long line of tasteless Fox shows,” Lamb said. “How do you differentiate one from another anymore?”
Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption, said he believed his campaign against the show lost momentum because of the holidays.
“It exploits the sensitive emotions of adoption,” Atwood said. “it trivializes them. Adoption is a very personal, meaningful experience and it should not be commercialized like this.”
The Fox Television Studios has filmed six separate “Who’s Your Daddy?” shows, but the network has not yet scheduled any of the others to air.