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Sniper make-goods no problem

News developments in the Washington, D.C.-area's sniper case last Wednesday
forced Cable News Network, Fox News Channel and MSNBC to scrap several hundred thousand dollars
in ads in prime time and late-night. But most of that time -- network and local
-- was expected to be "re-expressed" elsewhere during the fourth quarter.

A Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. spokesman said CNN "can easily make
good in the fourth quarter." Despite the tightness in final-quarter prime time
avails, he said, "we always have an amount of inventory set aside" for such

Although he did not know how much ad time was yanked for the breaking
coverage, Weiss said, "If you were talking days and days [of commercial
pre-emptions], it'd be more of a problem" -- as was the case with Sept. 11.

Fox News went commercial-free from 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through 2 a.m.
Thursday, a spokeswoman said. "We roll people to the next night [for make-goods]
or, if need be, the next week."

MSNBC officials were unavailable for comment.

The mostly live coverage showed police authorities searching for bullets and
cutting and hauling away a tree stump used for target practice in a Tacoma,
Wash., backyard. At about 11 p.m. EST, police leaks gave the networks the names
of the two suspects in the killings that terrorized the
Washington/Maryland/Virginia area for three weeks; hours later, both were
arrested at a highway rest stop in Maryland.

The sniper-related commercial disruptions were the biggest since Sept. 11 and
last month's anniversary coverage but, of course, far less than the millions of
dollars pulled on those occasions.