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Networks Diverge On Treatment Of Newtown Tapes

At press time network news operations were taking different tacks on how and whether to air the just-released 911 tapes from the Newtown shootings. A judge ordered the calls be made public to the news media, over the opposition of some family members of the victims.

CNN debated the decision on-air, saying it was still vetting the tapes to decide whether there was news value that trumped requests by survivors not to air the tapes.

CNN reported on-air that Fox News had already aired some, but not all, of the audio—Fox said it would not air the most "gut-wrenching" portions of the calls, while ABC and NBC had decided not to air the tapes.

NBC confirmed that it had made that call. ABC did not immediately confirm that it had made the call. 

In a memo to staffers earlier in the day, NBC News President Deborah Turness had said her news operation would listen to the tapes before making any decision. "Using the tapes could cause distress and we must therefore proceed with great sensitivity and respect, particularly as the first anniversary of the shootings approaches," she told staffers.

After that listen, the network decided that neither NBC News nor MSNBC would air the audio on-air or online, adding: "It is fine for all programs and the website to report on the controversy related to the release of the tapes and include quotes or information from the tapes, but without audio."

CBS said it would air excerpts, said a spokesperson, but under certain guidelines said a CBS source, including that it will not use audio of the sounds of gunshots and will not use any of the 911 audio in promos, teases or headlines.