Broadband Service Grows

Sep 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

To put a reverse twist on an old cliche, ABC News Now is evolving like there is a tomorrow-and not like there is the possibility that the broadband/digital prototype for a 24/7 news channel will come to a screeching pause, if not halt, after the Nov. 2 general election.

This week, ANN will add 21/2-minute cut-ins near the top and bottom of the hour to allow local stations to do local news and weather and, if they can, add commercials to the mix.

Also joining the lineup this week are “Health Matters” (a medical news show) and “Couch Potatoes” (an ironically titled show about fitness and health).

In coming days, the potential appeal of ANN will be broadened with the addition of shows and regularly scheduled blocks about entertainment (“Stealing Scenes”), fashion (“Stylin”‘), new technology and gotta-get gadgets (“Ahead of the Curve”), heart-warming stories (“Silver Lining” and “Good News”) and the busy trials beat (“Guilt or Innocence”).

Among the shows that were slipped into the lineup after the Democratic convention is “Tattle Tales,” a gossip roundup that has featured such gossip mavens as Richard Johnson of the New York Post’s Page Six.

“I really want this to be a place to find out what’s going on and also get information that is helpful to your life,” said ANN executive producer Mike Clemente.

Over the long weekend of Hurricane Frances that meant adding extended carriage of local stations in the storm’s path to a schedule that also included national coverage of the hurricane, former President Bill Clinton’s health crisis and a security breach that shut down Los Angeles International Airport.

That’s a far cry from the starter dough for the 14-week experiment: a free-form broadband buffet featuring mostly repurposed news and live news conferences. ANN is available for free as digital broadcasts or cable or satellite retransmission from some 70 ABC-owned stations and affiliates reaching upward of 65 percent of the country’s TV homes or through subscription partners including RealNetworks and America Online.