Some Networks to Stand Pat on 9/11

Although they recognize the significance of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, some networks are choosing to go ahead with regularly scheduled shows that will serve as alternatives to commemorative programming.

Most Turner Broadcasting System Inc. networks — including Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation — will hold to typical program lineups on that day, TBS Inc. executive vice president of corporate communications Brad Turell said.

While the networks will be cautious about the series content and movies scheduled, Turell said the networks will provide a choice to the heavy load of Sept. 11-related programming.

"To compete against the news networks, I don't believe is in the public's interest, or in our interest. It's not our specialty," he said. "We're not aggressively going after viewers and no one has high [viewership] expectations, but we feel that that's the best thing for our viewers to offer them an a lighter alternative."

One notable Turner exception, of course, is Cable News Network. Turell said TBS nixed a plan to have The WB, CNN's corporate sibling on the broadcast side, simulcast the news network's extensive coverage.

"We feel that our product has always been a major driver of cable and we felt an obligation to our distributors to keep that product exclusive to cable," he said.


Elsewhere, Home Box Office Pay-Per-View is keeping a Sept. 14 Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas PPV event on the schedule, but suspending all related marketing efforts on Sept. 11. The date falls on a Wednesday, typically one of the heaviest promotional days prior to a Saturday PPV event.

HBO PPV senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet said he thinks distributing the fight will help demonstrate the country's spirit in the wake of the tragedy.

Last year, the network postponed its New York-based Sept. 16 Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins PPV event to Sept. 29, due to the attacks. The fight generated a surprisingly high 475,000 buys, despite the date change.

Several other networks announced Sept. 11-related programming last week. BBC America will offer live coverage of commemorative events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania beginning at 6 a.m., said the network.

In the days preceding the anniversary, A&E Network will air two documentary shows, Minute By Minute: The Attack on the Pentagon
(Sept. 4) and Investigative Reports: Anatomy of Sept. 11
(Sept. 9).

Also on Sept. 9, Showtime will air Reflections From Ground Zero, a showcase of nine films created by New York University students based on the attacks.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.