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PRIME TIMES, BAD TIMES by Ed Joyce (Anchor Books / Doubleday: $9.95)

April 16, 1989|ELENA BRUNET

This is perhaps the definitive insider's account of the decline of the once-vaunted CBS News division (due to shrinking viewership, bloated egos run amok, budget problems and internecine squabbling).

Ed Joyce spent almost 30 years at CBS, attaining the position of president of network news in 1983. Two years later, he was fired and out of work. Hence this book, written with candor but out of bad feeling and a sense of betrayal.

The black hats are numerous--the duplicitous and vain Dan Rather (colder and more calculating in real life than Jack Nicholson's wicked portrayal of a news anchor in "Broadcast News"); Van Gordon Sauter, Joyce's capricious patron and boss, and the assorted money men, agents and on-air personalities who saw CBS News not as a forum for principled journalism but as a sideshow of the entertainment division and as a cash cow.

As such, Joyce's version of the undoing of CBS is less that of "Broadcast News" and more Paddy Chayefsky's "Network."

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