Sunday, November 14, 2004

TV Interrupted

Time to juxtopose two recent newsbreaks into regular network programming.

CBS REPORTEDLY FIRES PRODUCER OVER ARAFAT REPORT. CBS News has fired the producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of a hit crime drama on Wednesday with a special report on Yasir Arafat's death, a source at the network said. News of the dismissal came out a day after CBS apologized to viewers for breaking into the show, "C.S.I.: N.Y." The network, owned by Viacom, declined to comment on a report of the dismissal on the Web site of a trade publication, Broadcasting & Cable. A network source confirmed it and said the producer had failed to follow standard procedures that require a senior CBS News executive to be consulted before interrupting regular programming. The source said the producer disregarded explicit advance instructions that Mr. Arafat's death, if it occurred in prime time, was to be reported with a news "crawl" at the bottom of the screen. (Reuters)

Saturday afternoon while I'm watching the Northwestern vs Michigan football game on ABC the game was interrupted by a news break. The news was to explain that Vice President Dick Cheney had some shortness of breath and that he was taken to the hospital and was found to be OK. The break reported that he did not have a heart attack or any heart problem that the shortness of beath was due to a cold.

So, now I'm wondering if the ABC producer will lose their job over a newsbreak to report a cold of our Vice President, in contrast to the CBS newsbreak that reported the death of the leader of the Palestinians. Maybe ABC and CBS need to get their own 24 hour cable news channel where they can report these things without interrupting entertainment with stories that won't change the lives of those watching the entertainment.

I pay plenty of attention to the news so I think that I should be able to flee the news occasionally and enjoy a football game once in awhile and Dick Cheney's cold doesn't change my life. Further when the networks interrupt commercials rather than the programming then I'll know the newsbreak was really important, but you know they won't do that unless the news is something like another 9/11.

So again I suggest that ABC and CBS start their own 24 hour cable news channel. Maybe one of them can bias toward the left as a response to FOX News. The networks also must face the fact that far too many people in this country care nothing about news and get upset when the entertainment is interrupted. We've heard alot of noise about the record turnout of voters this past election, but ignored is that 40% of eligible Americans did not vote. Four out ten Americans didn't care about politics and who would be president. I doubt these people care much about whether Dick Cheney had a cold or even knew who he was. I doubt those 40% had any interest in Arafat's death and wondered why they had to hear about it.


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