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Tower Group Slams Dateline Special

“Tower Dogs,” a recently aired NBC Dateline special examining the daily lives of tower crews was criticized by the National Association of Tower Erectors this week as a “salacious” and “sensationalistic” profile of the profession.

The show, which aired on July 21, was promoted by NBC as “a never-before-seen journey into the perilous world of the tower climbers who work on the frontlines of America’s high-tech communications system.”

“The hour-long broadcast goes up close and personal to give a no-holds-barred look at tower dogs’ lives—up in the air and on the ground,” noted a program listing on “We experience their on-the-job tension and watch them work hard, play hard, and mourn when they lose one of their own.”

NATE took exception to the program’s direction, however, accusing Dateline of accentuating “stereotypes” about the profession of tower climbing and focusing more on the crews’ efforts to bypass safety rules in favor of creating an entertaining program.

“It’s clear that the purpose of this reality show format was to entertain at the cost of the industry’s reputation,” the association said in a statement. “By focusing on generalized stereotypes of our industry, the piece only showed a caricature of tower climbers rather than an accurate portrayal and presented a stilted view of the real-world situations that tower climbers face daily.”

Kevin Hayden, board member and founding member of NATE was interviewed for the show but the association accused Dateline of editing out many of his comments about the importance of safety.

NATE said it was not involved with the production of the show.