CBS cut into March Madness coverage, while ABC broke into its presentation of the BNP Paribas tennis tournament Saturday for special reports, as the U.S., in partnership with a coalition of other countries, began military operations against some 20 targets in Libya.
Cable news networks began gearing up their coverage of the multi-national effort, initially encompassing the U.S., France, Britain, Canada and Italy, to enforce a no-fly zone.
CNN said Saturday that its coverage began with the announcement by French President Sarkozy saying "We are intervening" in Libya," followed by the launch of its fighter jets, which preceded the U.S. bombings.
The U.S.. which launched its missles from ships off-shore, called it an international military effort to take down long-range surface-to-air missiles and otherwise establish a no-fly zone. A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. not begun the "next phase" of the effort.
There have been no U.S. forces on the ground, said the Pentaogn, and no U.S. planes over land at press time.
It was characterized as the first phase in a multi-phase operation.
President Obama, in Brazil, announced the U.S. participation in the military inititiative thusly:
"Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people. That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message, and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners.
"This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought. Even yesterday, the international community offered Muammar Qaddafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate cease-fire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Qaddafi's forces. But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. His attacks on his own people have continued. His forces have been on the move. And the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown.
"I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it's not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.
"So we must be clear: Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition.
"As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. "And as I said yesterday, we will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
"As Commander-in-Chief, I have great confidence in the men and women of our military who will carry out this mission. They carry with them the respect of a grateful nation.
I'm also proud that we are acting as part of a coalition that includes close allies and partners who are prepared to meet their responsibility to protect the people of Libya and uphold the mandate of the international community.
"I've acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world."
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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