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CNN: 'Banner Board' Graphic Here To Stay

CNN Senior VP and Washington bureau chief David Bohrman told B&C he would check out the commercials for Tuesday night's Democratic Convention coverage, but said the network still planned to keep the graphic "banner board" that takes up a fifth of the screen in place during the national ads on the channel as well as throughout the convention coverage.

 CNN has been "squeezing" the picture and running the banner during the primaries and stretching back to the 2006 election.

  The current blue banner contains a running agenda of what is happening and coming up on the convention floor that alternates with a convention "fact." But Monday night it occasionally obscured the ID's on people speaking in convention videos. It could also create some confusion between ad and editorial material because although the banner remained along the bottom of the screen during national spots, it did not appear during most local ads.

  "We can't control all the local cable systems," says Bohrman, who would prefer the board ran in local commercials, too. "Most of them have the automated systems that run the commercials. We would prefer that all the commercials all the time go into this [squeezed and banner-boarded] mode.

  Bohrman pointed out that CNN rarely knows where the IDs are going to be in the videos. But for two or three of the videos Monday night, the channel never showed the videos in full-screen mode but instead shot them off the big screen in the hall, he says, so "we were able to read the ID's on it."

 But on the video introducing Senator Kennedy, for example, CNN did not see the film beforehand. "It would have been very nice to see it ahead of time," he says, "because we might have been able to know that maybe we should have just taken [the banner] down."

 As to the mix of banners and no banners on the ads, Bohrman said from Denver Tuesday that "the coming and going chaos with commercials is what you saw because of however your cable or satellite system dealt with it."

 And finally, on whether the banner should remain during political ads that might be confused with convention videos--as happened with a McCain spot Monday night--Bohrman said that he did not know the McCain people had bought ads during the convention.

 Would it make sense to pull the banner for political spots? "That may be. If I knew there was a campaign spot I would think about that as well," he told B&C. "I don't know what the commercials are, certainly not at that level when we are in the middle of convention coverage."

 Bohrman said he would check Tuesday night's lineup to see if there are more campaign spots, in which case he has the ability to remove it then put it back to avoid any confusion. "But what the bottom [banner] is doing is letting you know while the commercial is on that here is what is happening in the convention so you just don't turn the channel."