Court TV promotes `CSI’ on local news

Feb 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

In a branding coup, Court TV will put Catherine Crier, the cable network’s signature newscaster, and the Court logo right inside CBS affiliates’ local newscasts around the country.
It’s part of a unique deal tying Court’s real-life “Forensic Files” series into the Eye Network’s premier one-hour drama, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Each week Court will provide CBS Newspath, the distribution system that provides newsfeeds to more than 200 affiliate stations, with a one-minute to 11/2-minute “cutdown” culled from an episode of “Forensic Files,” Court’s forensic-investigations series that profiles true-life criminal cases and the scientific sleuthing done by the coroners, medical examiners and physicians who solve them. That cutdown is introduced by Ms. Crier, and its subject matter is tied to that week’s episode of “CSI,” CBS’s hit sophomore series, which often dramatizes the same types of cases.
“We try and match the subject matter of this week’s `CSI’ to the cutdown,” said Art Bell, Court’s executive VP, programming and marketing. “The intention is to give the local CBS news affiliate the opportunity to say, `See what the real forensics behind “CSI” is about.”’
In effect, that means the local CBS station’s news anchor “throws” to “Court TV’s Catherine Crier” on tape. Ms. Crier, standing between logos for “Forensic Files” and Court TV, introduces and voice tracks the weekly true-crime-solving package.
Although Newspath had a similar deal with VH1 for music and entertainment reports, this is the first time it has gone outside the Viacom family, said Bill Mondora, executive producer and director of news for Newspath. There’s no data yet on how many stations have picked up the “Forensic” features, but anecdotal feedback has been positive, he said.
In one “Forensic Files” cutdown, a fingerprint on a plastic bag leads to the arrest of a child killer; in another, the distraught mother of a child injured by a hit-and-run driver has the presence of mind to photograph the tire-track marks on the injured little girl’s face and then to make rubbings from the tires of cars parked nearby. Other upcoming “CSI” episodes to be mirrored by “Forensic” cutdowns will involve fiber identification and the use of insects to determine time of death.
Court will provide these and similar “Forensic” cutdowns through Newspath for the remainder of the TV season and through the summer. It will then be decided whether or not to continue for another year, Mr. Bell said.
The deal hits “dead center [for affiliates], who are doing all they can to promote `CSI’ and promote their local news,” he said, “and here’s a place they can do both.”
The deal also builds on an informal “collegial” relationship between the producers of the two shows, Mr. Bell said. “`CSI’ producers and writers call the `Forensic Files’ writers and producers on an occasional basis” for tips, he said.
This isn’t the first time that Court has extended its brand via a broadcast network. Court does joint investigations with NBC’s “Dateline” and did a “Safety Challenge” special that was co-produced by ABC News.