Networks Prepare for 9/11 Anniversary

Major networks and cable outlets are planning extensive, daylong coverage of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Many advertisers have opted out of the coverage, which means networks will offer TV viewers an entire day of retrospective with little or no commercial breaks.

With retrospectives hard to avoid, will the coverage be seen as overkill?

According to The Associated Press, networks are asking themselves the same thing.

Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer for special projects at NBC News, said it’s a question everyone is grappling with. “I don’t think anybody has a handle on it. It’s a very tough call. The great thing about television is: If you’ve had enough, you can turn it off.”

NBC will air a commemorative concert the night of 9/11, but will run a Dateline NBC special hosted by Tom Brokaw the night before. The network figures viewers may be overdosed on the subject by midday on the 11th, the AP reports.

ABC and CBS, however, are gambling that people will want to see more. Both networks will focus on reactions of how the government responded in the week following 9/11 in primetime specials.

Here is a rundown of network and cable stations’ anniversary coverage on Sept. 11, according to USA TODAY:

ABC Coverage of the day’s memorial events from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET/4 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT, four hours of primetime (including a minute-by-minute account of the twin towers’ collapse in cooperation with USA TODAY) and Nightline. Peter Jennings will moderate a new edition of Answering Children’s Questions, which aired last fall.

CBS With 9/11: The Day That Changed America, viewers will get expanded editions of The Early Show and the CBS Evening News, with primetime coverage featuring 60 Minutes contributors and an exclusive interview with President George Bush. The documentary 9/11 will be rebroadcast Sept. 8 at 9 p.m.

NBC: Themed America Remembers, coverage includes a six-hour edition of Today; a town-hall meeting with rescuers, victims’ families and survivors; and continuous coverage anchored by Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams. Concert for America (to be taped Sept. 9 in Washington, D.C.) will air at 9 p.m. as a tribute.

FOX: The Day America Changed, a two-hour special hosted by Brit Hume, will air at 9 p.m. ET (live)/PT (taped). The special features interviews with survivors, rescuers and family members and will include Greta Van Susteren, Shepard Smith and Bill O’Reilly.

CNN: Using the America Remembers label just like NBC, CNN plans 12-hour coverage anchored by Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn from CNN’s Manhattan rooftop at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT, a two-hour special with Brown and Connie Chung at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and a Larry King show at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. A two-part Sept. 11 documentary also airs Aug. 17 and 24 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Fox News Channel will air regularly scheduled programming commercial-free on Sept. 11 from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET/2 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT.

PBS: America Rebuilds, a documentary about the aftereffects of Sept. 11 aided by special access from former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, airs Sept. 10 at 10 p.m.

BBC America: Events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania where hijacked planes crashed will be covered live from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET/3 a.m. to 10 a.m. PT, along with overseas coverage.

For viewers looking for escapism, TBS will air The Wedding Singer, a comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.