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Networks to scale back on Sept. 11

August 12, 2003|David Bauder | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Two years removed from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, broadcast networks will mark the anniversary with news stories but aren't planning to interrupt their regular schedules.

It's in marked contrast to last year, when broadcasters devoted much of their day to the anniversary either with news specials or, in NBC's case, a commemorative concert.

"My sense is that this anniversary, the second anniversary, feels different than the first in scale and the kind of coverage appropriate for the day," said Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer for special projects at NBC News.

NBC hasn't firmed up its plans but, like ABC and CBS, doesn't expect any prime-time specials. The networks are waiting to see if New York City will announce any commemorations that they will deem worth covering.

ABC said Monday that all of its regularly scheduled news programs that week will examine the question of whether Americans are safer than before Sept. 11, 2001.

The network will assess the level of damage done to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, whether the money used to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks was well-spent and the balance between civil liberties and domestic security.

CBS will station Harry Smith at ground zero for the Sept. 11 edition of "The Early Show." The previous night on "60 Minutes II," CBS will rerun Scott Pelley's interview with President Bush conducted at the time of the first anniversary.

While last year was a significant marker for people, the terrorist attacks have become more of an ongoing story, Lukasiewicz said.

"I think this anniversary will be significant to the families and survivors for quiet contemplation," he said.

With more hours of news programming to fill, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC could be expected to spend more time on the story. CNN and MSNBC said Monday their plans weren't set yet. A Fox News Channel representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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