Nightline is a late-night hard news program, and has a franchised formula to other networks and stations elsewhere in the world. It airs five nights a week (weeknights), usually for 30 minutes. The program had its beginnings on November 8, 1979, just 4 days after the Iran hostage crisis started. ABC News president Roone Arledge felt the best way to compete against NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was to update Americans on the latest news from Iran. At that time, the show was called: "The Iran Crisis—America Held Hostage: Day xxx" where xxx represented each day Iranians held hostage the occupants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Originally, World News Tonight lead anchor Frank Reynolds hosted the special report. Shortly after its creation, Reynolds stopped hosting the program. Ted Koppel, then ABC News's State Department Correspondent, took on the hosting duties. At the end of the hostage crisis in 1981, Nightline had entrenched itself on the ABC programming schedule, and made Koppel a national figure. The program has prided itself on providing a mix of investigative journalism and extended interviews which would look out of place on World News Tonight. Thanks to a video sharing agreement with the BBC, Nightline also repackages some of the BBC's output for an American audience. Nightline broadcasts also reappear in a condensed form on the overnight program World News Now. The program aired four nights a week until 1982, when the sketch comedy program Fridays was shifted to air after Nightline. In 1983, there was an unsuccessful attempt to change the format of the show to multi-topics and an hour as opposed to a single topic in a half hour. This switch proved to be unsuccessful, and after a few months, the old program was restored. The program remains unique in American media, considering its nightly broadcasts. Most other similar shows only air once a week, though usually in a prime-time slot for a full hour. Nightline is usually less sensationalistic than the weekly newsmagazines (which often emphasize soft news programming), though the program has caused controversy on occasion. Perhaps the most infamous episode of Nightline occurred on April 15, 1987. During the episode, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers executive Al Campanis made racially insensitive comments. When Ted Koppel asked Campanis about why there weren't that many black field or general managers in Major League Baseball, Campanis responded by saying that blacks may lack the "necessities." What soon followed was what many observers believed was Campanis coming off worse and worse despite the numerous chances from Koppel to clarify himself. Shortly after the interview, the Dodgers fired Campanis, who would be haunted by the Nightline appearance until his death in 1998. Rumors have spread for many years about the show's cancellation. Many believe that a talk-show format would receive better ratings for the network, which has struggled in late-night ratings over the past few years. However, this was not always the case. During the so-called "late show wars" of 1993, when The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show were battling it out for viewers, Nightline would often place second and occasionally be in first place. In 2002, ABC attempted to hire David Letterman from CBS, a move that would likely have forced Nightline's cancellation. However, Letterman opted to re-sign with CBS. (When ABC added Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2003, it was placed at the 12:05 timeslot instead of the 11:35 slot of Nightline, again preventing cancellation.) Although his contract ended in December, Koppel actually anchored his final Nightline broadcast on November 22, 2005. He had announced that March that he was leaving the show at the end of his contract. Koppel had considerably reduced his hosting duties at the show beginning in 2002. Ratings have been up since the new format has begun, even beating the The Late Show with David Letterman for three consecutive weeks in August 2006. On November 28, 2005, Koppel was replaced by a three-anchor team: Martin Bashir and Cynthia McFadden at Times Square Studios in New York City and Terry Moran in Washington, D.C. Along with the new anchors, Nightline that now is live every night, has a multi-topic format--that is, it covers multiple stories in each broadcast. There are many critics of the multi-topic format due to the fact that it is more difficult to focus on a subject in depth when there is much less time devoted to the subject, and that more stories seem to be focusing on popular culture, rather than news events. As of August 7, 2006 ABC moved Nightline's New York operations from Times Square to ABC News Headquarters in Lincoln Square, citing high production costs and logistical problems.
No votes yet