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Cell Phones Help Cover Bombings

U.S. television networks interrupted early morning news Thursday to report the bombings in London, while cable nets grabbed the story and ran with it all day. Both used cell phone video to help tell the story.

Meanwhile, communicating by cell phone become somewhat problematic. The British government has the ability to take over the spectrum in an emergency under the theory that it needs to clear the channels for first responders and wants to deny terrorists a chance to communicate, according to one CNN correspondent.

The attacks, on London’s subway system and a double-decker bus, occurred just at the end of the city’s morning rush hour, overnight in the U.S., where those networks went to breaking news coverage between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. ET.

The networks made use of a new type of amateur video: images captured from cell phones, including of an evacuation of one of the bombed subway cars.

Virtually all the networks aired grainy images from mobile phones wielded by survivors of the blast.

British network ITN was soliciting such high-tech footage. A crawl on its screen was asking viewers to send in video and pictures.

CBS, ABC and NBC all extended their morning news shows into the late morning. ABC briefly cut away to Live with Regis & Kelly at 10 a.m. ET, but returned to news for a press conference with London officials.

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams anchored MSNBC’s morning coverage, while Katie Couric and Lester Holt handled Today on NBC.

On the cable side, CNN says it was first on the air with the news at 4:48 a.m., followed by Fox News at 4:57 a.m. and MSNBC at 5 a.m. CNN stuck with American Morning throughout most of the day, continuing to promote it, somewhat sheepishly, as a very extended version of the morning show, even deep into the afternoon.
Networks were in good shape to cover the blasts since they already had correspondents in Scotland covering President Bush’s visit to the G-8 economic summit, but that didn't stop others from preparing to hop flights fot the British Isles.

CBS' John Roberts and  Harry Smith were planning to head to London, while Matt Lauer was returning from vacation to anchor NBC's  Today from New York while NBC's Campbell Brown and John Siegenthaler were headed for London.