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Is NBC ready to dump evening news after the election? 3/21/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in NBC, Network Evening News.
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nbc.jpgGiving NBC the benefit of the doubt that they have a well thought-out plan for their network evening news, it must be that they want it to go away. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker has already defined what broadcast TV will look like in 10 years, and the only news programs that fit his model are one time events covered exclusively by his network that draw huge and diverse audiences, like a debate or a special interview. Then this week, NBC announced a transfer of much of the airtime of network news talents David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell to their MSNBC cable channel. In December, there were layoffs in their news division. And despite the Pew Center’s new report showing that NBC’s Evening News ratings continue to plunge (see graph above), Media Life reports that the network still refuses to tinker with their decades-old formula, a sure sign of lack of future interest.

Fact is, broadcast news has never been more than a tolerated step-child that has outstayed its welcome. It was invented in the 1940’s as a rotten deal between the networks and the government. CBS was looking for a way to demonstrate good corporate citizenship so that politicians wouldn’t flinch when renewing their license to broadcast profitable entertainment programming. Not surprisingly, it has brought us cowardly, plain vanilla, center-left, establishment-friendly “journalism” — note how much hotter the political talk is on unlicensed cable. But now that the Internet has revealed the pro-government bias to their audiences, network evening news is generating badwill among the public that the networks could do without, especially in this time of historic changes in the media. So, say goodnight Brian. And soon we will also learn how small a cable market there is for same-old same-old center-lefters like Gregory and Mitchell.

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