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In the Know: A Look at The Week Ahead

'Nightline' to Finally Air Congo Series

January 21, 2002

ABC's "Nightline" will try again, starting tonight, to air its weeklong series on the war in Congo; the series was preempted after one night because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This is the first time since then that ABC has felt comfortable blocking out a week for a non-attack-related story.

It was a foreign story that got bumped from "Nightline," but the attacks nevertheless set off much media soul-searching, particularly in TV, about the relative dearth of foreign news on the air, the result of budget cuts and slim viewer interest. "Nightline" executive producer Tom Bettag thinks the timing of the Congo reports might work just as well now.

"People suddenly do realize that what happens overseas can have a lot of impact on their lives," he says. "We need to remind ourselves that Afghanistan isn't the only place in the world where there are huge problems."

And although the link to U.S. lives might not be as direct with the Congo, he says, "it's just plain interesting."

By some estimates, the Congo conflict has killed 3 million people in three years, or about 2,700 people per day, says Bettag. In comparison, an estimated 2,893 were killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

In his introduction tonight, anchor Ted Koppel plans to say: "These are events you should have heard about on 'Nightline' years ago," adding that the show is "ashamed of our indifference."

Compiled by Times staff writers

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