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RFD-TV will bring June 13 Fergus Falls WLAC into America's homes, beginning June 22

The premiere annual livestock auctioneering contest will put 33 contestants in the auction block here on June 13--and in America's homes beginning June 22.

For the third consecutive year, RFD-TV--the first 24-hour TV network aimed at rural America--will broadcast a one-hour special on Livestock Marketing Association's World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, now in its 46th year.

RFD-TV is on cable systems in all 50 states, serving more than 40 million homes, with over 11 million weekly viewers. On the Dish Network, it's channel 231, and on DirecTV it's channel 345.

The June 22 premiere will be at 8 p.m. (ET). LMA officials said additional broadcasts will be announced later.

The June 13 WLAC, an actual livestock sale, gets underway at 8 a.m. at the Fergus Falls Livestock Auction Market.

LMA President Bobby Smith, Fairview, Okla., said the annual WLAC "is an exciting, competitive event--that has an important message behind it.

"These auctioneers, like those who work everyday at markets all over the country, are helping to promote and preserve the competitive livestock marketing system. Putting your livestock in front of several buyers is the best way to get the best price."

Mike Hansen is executive vice president of RFD-TV. He said the WLAC "has a much broader appeal than just those interested in the business of livestock auctions--it crosses over into the entertainment area."

This broad appeal, he added, exists because virtually everyone "has a rural connection, and we've all heard the auctioneer's chant, whether it's at a charity auction, a livestock or an estate sale."

Viewer feedback to the contest comes in the form of e-mails, letters and phone calls, Hansen said. The comments "range from appreciation for our broadcasting a change of pace program like the contest--to people talking about their local auctioneer, and comparing him to the contestants."

Co-hosting the broadcast again this year, for the third time, will be two former world champions--Lex Madden, from 1998, and John Korrey, 2002.

Madden first entered the contest in 1990, when he won the reserve champion title, or second place. He entered again several times until he won the world title, and said he "has noticed a change in the contestants over the years; they're better educated about industry issues."

The broadcast, he believes, has given broader exposure to LMA, the contest, "and it's educating the public about livestock marketing--and I've had a lot of people come up and say they've seen the program and have enjoyed it."

Another testimony to the talent on display at the WLAC comes from Joe Lichtie, manager of Superior Productions. Superior is the broadcast and production division of Superior Livestock Auction, America's largest livestock video marketing firm.

This will be the third year Lichtie has been the executive producer of the WLAC special. As someone who listens to "hundreds and hundreds of hours of livestock auctioneers every year," Lichtie said one thing that stands out for him about the WLAC "is the professionalism of the contestants, and the sheer talent they have.

"The top talent is there (at the contest)," he said. "LMA has picked it out."

Thirty-two of the semi-finalists made it to Fergus Falls by qualifying at one of four quarter-final competitions, conducted last fall by LMA. The top eight scorers in each competition move on to the June WLAC.

The 33rd contestant is Peter Raffan, Armstrong, B.C., the current International Auctioneer Champion. LMA traditionally gives a "bye" into the semi-finals to the winner of that competition.

The semi-finalists are scored by six judges on two elements: a live interview during LMA's annual meeting on the 12th, and as they sell several drafts of cattle during the actual sale at the market on the 13th.

The top 10 finalists, as determined by their combined interview and selling scorers, then return to the auction block for a final round of selling. The three titlists--world, reserve and runner-up--are announced at an awards banquet the evening of the 13th.

The broadcast will focus on the semi-finals, and then take a closer look at the 10 finalists. Other program features will be announced later.

LMA conducts the WLAC to spotlight competitive livestock marketing, and the auctioneer's continuing vital role in that process. LMA is North America's largest membership organization dedicated to supporting, representing and communicating with and for the entire livestock marketing sector.

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