An agency representing Carnival Kia, recently rebranded as Universal Kia, threatened to pull advertisements from local TV and radio outlets if they ran stories or mentioned the legal problems of owner Chris Bostick.
After hearing from employees at multiple outlets that their management had handcuffed them in reporting on Bostick or the KIA name change, The City Paper found that at least two of the four major TV stations in Nashville had been contacted by the agency in question. Bostick was indicted on misdemeanor domestic assault charges by a Williamson County grand jury in January.
Media outlets typically set up a wall between their business and news operations in order to prevent conflicts of interest in reporting. That wall appears to have been breached to some extent in relation to Universal Kia.
Insiders at one television station and one nationally owned radio chain say that their management either edited news copy or were told not to report on Bostick’s continued ownership stake in Universal Kia or all advertising would be pulled. This threat originally came from the advertising agency representing the Kia dealerships, Go Big Marketing of Orlando, Fla.
Through his attorney, Bostick said that the advertising agency had made such calls without his knowledge and that he “shut them down” as he did not agree with or approve of the practice.
Debbie Turner, general manager of WTVF NewsChannel 5, confirmed to The City Paper that an individual in her station’s marketing department received a verbal threat from the advertising agency and was told that a letter would be forthcoming restating the threat. Turner said it was brought to her attention.
Turner said her station would have ignored the written demand, noting, “We have lost advertising before because of news coverage and will likely have it happen again.”
Soon thereafter though, Turner said she was called by Bostick, who stated that he had not approved of what the advertising agency was trying to do, that he understood that it was inappropriate, and that no letter would be forthcoming. Turner said that in fact, no other communication on the matter was ever received and had it come in it would have remained on her desk, independent of the news operation.
Bostick currently is facing a number of legal issues, including his alleged assult of his wife Dessie late last year and divorce proceedings from her that were originally filed in 2009, but recently restarted after apparent failed reconciliation.