ABC News Now Soon?

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The Insider hears that ABC News President David Westin will announce the next stage of his plan to build a digital national-local news network around ABC News Now, his division’s broadband operation, at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s National Show in San Francisco this morning.

The news executive used the 2004 campaign as the launch pad for a digital broadcast and cable test run in the markets of ABC’s 10 owned-and-operated stations and some 70 affiliates’ markets. The channel also got a good workout when hurricanes pummeled the United States last year. In January ABC News took the channel off TV, announcing that it would continue to invest in it and seek affiliate partners, and that it would be relaunched later.

The ABC affiliates advisory board still has not come to an agreement with the network about the affiliate body’s equity stake and voice in such a venture. Sources said many affiliates feel it’s time to fish or cut bait.

But Mr. Westin is said to be very optimistic that he can eventually get widespread affiliate participation, and he is expected to announce that he is going fishing for deals one affiliate group at a time.

There are indications that Mr. Westin expects some deals to firm up in July, which might mean that The Insider will have another all-news alternative to summer reruns.

Meanwhile, anyone who wants a peek at some of the feature segments that have been developed for ABC News Now can check out the network’s overnight newscast, “World News Now,” which began sprinkling some of them in mid-March.

Of Carlson Ties and Teases

To bow (tie) or not to bow (tie): That is the question being posed pictorially at MSNBC, which is developing a Tucker Carlson show to follow “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” on the weeknight lineup.

As of late last week the MSNBC brain trust still had not locked in a format, title or launch date for the hour-long show (think late April or early May).

Then there’s the more intrinsic question: Will the congenitally bow-tied Mr. Carlson give up his sartorial signature? Carlson confidants can’t recall ever seeing the man who used to debate from the right on CNN’s “Crossfire” in a regular tie.

MSNBC had Mr. Carlson photographed with and without bow tie and has been posting the alternating photos at MSNBC headquarters in New Jersey, where Mr. Carlson began house hunting early this year.

The Insider, whose favorite form of exercise is leaping to conclusions, suspected this photo flip-flop was a way to put the couture question to a vote. Alas, when she tried to enlist a proxy, she was told that (a) there was no vote, (b) the wind seemed to be blowing in the direction of Carlson keeping the bow tie and (c) this was mostly a tease to raise suspense.

The Insider’s goosebumps are standing up straight and tall enough to wear little bow ties.