CBS’s Heyward Downplays Convention Coverage

Jul 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

CBS News President Andrew Heyward told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Monday that his network does not need to provide full prime-time coverage of the upcoming presidential conventions because the conventions in their entirety aren’t necessarily news. “For a long time convention coverage, I actually think, exceeded what you could justify in sheer public service,” Mr. Heyward said.

He explained that decades ago when conventions were suspenseful and the outcome wasn’t predetermined there was news to report. But for years the conventions have been little more than platforms for the parties and the candidates. “That actually stayed around longer than it should have, in my view as a journalist,” he said.

Mr. Heyward described the coverage of the past few convention cycles, in which the broadcast networks cut back on the hours of their actual coverage, as “much more judicious analysis of what’s actually there.”

“I think there is a public service for sure in having very broad exposure for candidates’ speeches,” he said.

Mr. Heyward also commented on Fox News Channel and the controversy over what some consider its right-leaning bias. “Fox was really an outgrowth of talk radio and it’s a brilliant concept in its own right,” he said. But Mr. Heyward noted that the media’s penchant to present news in the extreme hasn’t helped viewers. “I do think that Fox has contributed to the polarization of the debate, and that’s probably not a good thing,” he said.