- Nightline (US news program)
show_name = Nightline
runtime = 31 minutes
Cynthia McFadden Terry Moran Martin Bashir Chris Bury
country = USA
network = ABC
slogan = "For a Brighter Take on the Day."
480i( SDTV) 720p( HDTV) [http://www.broadcastingcable.com/index.asp?layout=talkbackCommentsFull&talk_back_header_id=6551270&articleid=CA6589802]
March 24, 1980
last_aired = present
website = http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/
imdb_id = 0154053
tv_com_id = 13427
"Nightline", or "ABC News Nightline" is a late-night hard and soft news program broadcast by ABC in the
United States, and has a franchised formula to other networks and stations elsewhere in the world. It airs five nights a week (weeknights), usually for 31 minutes. Ted Koppelserved as main anchor from March 1980 until his retirement from the program in November 2005.
"The Iran Crisis—America Held Hostage": 1979
The program had its beginnings on
November 8, 1979, just 4 days after the Iran hostage crisisstarted. ABC Newspresident Roone Arledgefelt the best way to compete against NBC's " The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" was to update Americans on the latest news from Iran. At that time, the show was called: "The Iran Crisis—America Held Hostage: Day "xxx" where "xxx" represented each day Iranians held hostage the occupants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Originally, " World News Tonight" lead anchor Frank Reynoldshosted the special report. Shortly after its creation, Reynolds stopped hosting the program. Ted Koppel, then ABC News's State Department Correspondent, took on the hosting duties. It wasn't until a few days later that a producer had the idea of displaying the number of days on "America Held Hostage": Day 15, Day 50, Day 150, and so on. That constant repetition contributed to the defeat, ultimately, of Jimmy Carter as president by Ronald Reagan.Fact|date=April 2008 The show's producer, Jerry Chernak, died Tuesday, November 9th, 2004, in Orlando, Florida.
Ted Koppel's "Nightline": 1980–2005
At the end of the hostage crisis in 1981 (after 444 days), "Nightline" had entrenched itself on the ABC programming schedule, and made Koppel a national figure. The program has prided itself on providing a mix of investigative journalism and extended interviews which would look out of place on "
World News Tonight". Thanks to a video sharing agreement with the BBC, "Nightline" also repackages some of the BBC's output for an American audience. "Nightline" broadcasts also reappear in a condensed form on the overnight program " World News Now".
The format of the show was as follows: first there was the introduction by the host, then a taped piece on the specific topic of the night, then after a commercial break, there was a live interview related to the topic of the piece. In 1983, there was an unsuccessful attempt to change the format of the show to multi-topics and an hour as opposed to a single topic in a half hour. This switch proved to be unsuccessful, and after a few months, the old program was restored. The format was again changed after Ted Koppel's retirement.
The program remains unique in American media, considering its nightly broadcasts. Most other similar shows only air once a week, though usually in a
prime timeslot for a full hour. "Nightline" is usually less sensationalistic than the weekly newsmagazines (which often emphasize soft newsprogramming), though the program has caused controversy on occasion.
Perhaps the most infamous episode of "Nightline" occurred on
April 15, 1987. During the episode, longtime Los Angeles Dodgersexecutive Al Campanismade racially insensitive comments. When Ted Koppel asked Campanis about why there were not that many black field or general managers in Major League Baseball, Campanis responded by saying that blacks may lack the "necessities." What soon followed was what many observers believed was Campanis coming off worse and worse despite the numerous chances from Koppel to clarify himself. Shortly after the interview, the Dodgers fired Campanis, who would be haunted by the "Nightline" appearance until his death in 1998.
Nightline devoted each episode to a unique subject. Since its inception, they have covered all types of subjects (science, education, politics, economics, society, and breaking news). Many candidates for government offices, such as
David Duke(November 1991) have appeared on Nightline to try to promote themselves. Sometimes this worked against them. Seeing that there are so many prisons in the United States, they created an ongoing series in 1994 called "Crime and Punishment". Over the years Nightline had a number of technological firsts. They did the first live report from the base of Mount Everest. In November of 1992, Science reporter Michael Guillen did the first ever live broadcast from Antarctica. There were times where there was breaking news as late as 11:00 ET, and they had to change the subject of the show and cover the breaking news. Examples of this were the deaths of John Lennon(1980) and Yasir Arafat(2004). Other important series were "America: In Black and White" and " A Matter of Choice". Nightline held a series of townhall meetings. Some of the more important ones include the Israeli-Palestinian Town Meeting in 1987 and the one discussing the War of Iraq in 2003. Some suggest that apartheidended as a result of Nightline's coverage and bringing awareness of the problems to AmericansFact|date=April 2008. The interview was a major portion of the episode where important people were asked tough questions on the spot. Another series of townhall meetings featured public discussions and appearances by Japanese officials on the poor performance of American business during the 1980s, contrasted with the success of Japanese businesses. These townhall meetings coincided with the corporate takeovers of US companies by Japanese corporations during the early 1990s (i.e. MCA by Matsushita, CBS Recordsand Columbia Picturesby Sony Corporation, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Pebble Beach, et. al.)
John Edwardsadmits on "Nightline" to cheating on his wife with a campaign staffer.
*2005 Ted Koppel's last show as host of "Nightline".
*1988 "Nightline" goes on location to Jerusalem.
*1987 "Nightline" is seen in U.S.S.R. for first time.
Gary Hartadmits on "Nightline" to cheating on his wife.
*1987 "Nightline" presents its first "Town Meeting" the subject is AIDS and the show runs until 3:47 AM
*1987 Jim and
Tammy Faye Bakkerappear on "Nightline" after PTL scandal.
Al Campanis, Los Angeles Dodgersexecutive for more than forty years, resigns after making racially insensitive remarks on "Nightline".
Corazon Aquinoand Ferdinand Marcosappear on "Nightline".
*1985 First remote location for "Nightline" (
*1984 First live TV appearance by
Supreme CourtChief Justice Warren Burger.
*1983 "Nightline" expands from a half-hour to a full-hour program.
*1982 PLO chief
Yassar Arafatappears on "Nightline".
*1981 "Nightline" extends from four nights to five nights a week (Friday).
*1981 "Nightline with Ted Koppel" premieres on ABC.
*1981 "Nightline with Ted Koppel" extended from twenty minutes to thirty minutes.
*1980 ABC's nightly Iran Hostage crisis program renamed "Nightline".
*1979 ABC broadcasts "Iran Crisis: American Held Hostage" with
Frank Reynolds(forerunner to "Nightline").
Reading of the names
April 30, 2004, Koppel read the names of the members of the United States Armed Forceswho were killed in Iraq. This prompted controversy from conservatives who believed Koppel was making a political statement and from Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which felt that ABC was undermining the war effort in Iraq. Others, most notably the " Washington Post" television columnist, thought it was a ratings stunt for sweeps, and indeed "Nightline" was the highest rated program during that time period, and had about 30% more viewers than other "Nightline" programs that week. Sinclair stations did not air the program.
Koppel repeated the format on
May 28, 2004, reading the names of service members killed in Afghanistan, and on May 30, 2005, reading the names of all service members killed in Afghanistan or Iraq between the last program and the preparation of the program. This time, Sinclair stations aired the program as scheduled.
Rating and threats of cancellation
Rumors have spread for many years about the show's cancellation. Many believe that a talk-show format would receive better ratings for the network, which has struggled in late-night ratings over the past few years. However, this was not always the case. During the so-called "late show wars" of 1993, when "
The Late Show with David Letterman" and " The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" were battling it out for viewers, "Nightline" would often place second and occasionally be in first place.
In 2002, ABC attempted to hire
David Lettermanfrom CBS, a move that would likely have forced "Nightline"'s cancellation. However, Letterman opted to re-sign with CBS (When ABC added " Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2003, it was placed at the 12:06 timeslot instead of the 11:35 slot of "Nightline", again preventing cancellation).
Although his contract ended in December, Koppel actually anchored his final "Nightline" broadcast on
November 22, 2005. He had announced that March that he was leaving the show at the end of his contract. Koppel had considerably reduced his hosting duties at the show beginning in 2002.
Ratings have been up since the new format has begun, even beating the "
The Late Show with David Letterman" for three consecutive weeks in August 2006 and again in 2008.
Koppel's Final Closing Thought
On November 22, 2005, Ted Koppel retired from Nightline after 25 years on the show, and left ABC News after 42 years on the network. Koppel's final broadcast of Nightline did not feature clips, or highlighting moments, as typical when an anchor retires. Instead it featured Koppel's 1995 interview with college professor
Morrie Schwartz, who was suffering with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Every so often, Koppel ended the program with a "Closing Thought". This segment is usually when he expressed his opinion on the subject of the nights show. On his final night, the following was his "Closing Thought".
cquote|There's this quiz I give to some of our young interns when they first arrive at "Nightline". I didn't do it with the last batch; it's a little too close to home. "How many of you", I'll ask, "can tell me anything about
Eric Sevareid?" Blank stares. "How about Howard K. Smithor Frank Reynolds?" Not a twitch of recognition. " Chet Huntley? John Chancellor?" Still nothing. " David Brinkley" sometimes causes a hand or two to be raised, and Walter Cronkitemay be glad to learn that a lot of young people still have a vague recollection that he once worked in television news. What none of these young men and women in their late teens and early twenties appreciates, until I point it out to them, is that they have just heard the names of seven anchormen or commentators who were once so famous that everyone in the country knew their names. Everybody. Trust me, the transition from one anchor to another is not that big a deal. Cronkite begat Rather, Chancellor begat Brokaw, Reynolds begat Jennings. And each of them did a pretty fair job in his own right. You've always been very nice to me, so give this new anchor team for "Nightline" a fair break. If you don't, I promise you the network will just put another comedy show in this time slot. Then you'll be sorry. And that's our report for tonight, I'm Ted Koppel in Washington and from all of us here at ABC News, good night.
Post-Koppel "Nightline": 2005–present
November 28, 2005, Koppel was succeeded by a three-anchor team: Martin Bashirand Cynthia McFaddenat Times Square Studiosin New York Cityand Terry Moranin Washington, D.C.; the three anchor format being based on the BBC's Newsnight, which also has more than two anchors presenting the show. Along with the new anchors, "Nightline" is now live every night and has a multi-topic format—that covers multiple stories in each broadcast. There are many critics of the multi-topic format due to the fact that it is more difficult to focus on a subject in depth when there is much less time devoted to the subject, and that more stories seem to be focusing on popular culture, rather than news events. While McFadden and Moran have hard news backgrounds, Bashir's inclusion as the highest profile member of the team demonstrated a deft touch – best known to American audiences for his Diana, Princess of Walesand Michael Jacksoninterviews. However, he could easily be described as a hard news journalist of impeccable credentials, schooled at the BBC and ITN.
July 11, 2006, Ted Koppel made a surprise appearance on "Nightline" to discuss with co-anchor Terry Moran the prisoner situation at Guantanamo Bay, Cubaand to discuss his upcoming series for Discovery Channel. It was his first appearance on the broadcast since leaving the show in November 2005.
As of August 7, 2006 ABC had ceased "Nightline"'s New York operations from
Times Squareand moved to ABC News Headquarters in Lincoln Square, citing high production costs and logistical problems. Even though Nightline moved to ABC Headquarters in Lincoln Square, several shows have been taped at ABC's Times Square location, mainly with Martin Bashir's coverage.
*In Australia, "Nightline" airs at 1:30AM (AET) on
Sky News Australia.
List of late night network TV programs
* [http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/ "Nightline" website]
* [http://abcmedianet.com/web/showpage/showpage.aspx?program_id=000284&type=lead ABC Medianet Website]
*Nightline Story on [http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=2919344&page=1 Spam Arrest] & Hormel Trademark Battle
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