CBS News Senior Producer Dismissed After Pre-Emption

Nov 15, 2004  •  Post A Comment

CBS broke into prime-time programming Wednesday night to report the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but the scoop will be the last at CBS News for one employee.

The staffer, a senior producer at CBS’s “Up to the Minute,” was dismissed Friday, according to sources. A CBS spokesperson declined to comment on personnel matters.

But the break-in was done contrary to CBS standard operating procedure, because no senior executives of the network were called before the pre-emption, which cut off the conclusion of an episode of the network’s highly rated show “CSI: NY.”

Because Mr. Arafat’s death had been anticipated, CBS News had planned that in the event confirmation of his death came during prime time, the news would be announced with an on-screen crawl, rather than an interruption. “The specific way to handle his death was spelled out and circulated every single day,” an insider said. “That procedure wasn’t followed either.”

CBS apologized for interrupting “CSI: NY.” “An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news. We sincerely regret the error,” the network said in a statement.

CBS planned to rebroadcast that Wednesday episode of “CSI: NY” Friday night at 10 p.m. The network had planned to run an episode of the original “CSI” in that time period.