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Nets Agree to Air Bush Conference at 8 Tonight

Apr 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The start time for tonight’s presidential press conference has been moved from 8:30 to 8. That accommodation wrung agreement from all four major broadcast networks to carry the conference live. As a consequence, the networks had to perform last-minute surgery on their entertainment lineups on the opening night of the May sweeps ratings period, when millions of advertising dollars are on the schedule.

CBS is pre-empting “Without a Trace” and sliding its schedule back two hours, starting with “Survivor” at 9 p.m. (ET).

NBC is pre-empting its sitcoms “Joey” and “Will & Grace” and will stick with “The Apprentice” and “ER” after the press conference. NBC reportedly signaled to the White House that if the network could get the press conference at 8 p.m., it would carry it. Otherwise the Peacock Network, which could have left the press conference to MSNBC, did not want to butcher its entertainment lineup.

Fox is pre-empting “The O.C.,” and double episodes of “The Simple Life: Interns” now face the one-two punch of “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

ABC, which has not been a contender on Thursday nights, was the first network to agree to carry the press conference live, The Alphabet Network had already decided to pre-empt “Sweet Home Alabama” and start its coverage at 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT). “Primetime>live” now is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. (ET) instead of 10 to fill out the night.

The White House had given less than a day’s notice that it wanted the primest of prime-time clearance for President Bush, who seems to be losing the PR campaigns for his Social Security plan, his nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. and on other fronts.

ABC News’ plans for coverage tonight include anchored reports on its digital-broadband service ABC News Now and ABCNews.com.

CBS also will offer the presidential press conference for broadcast on local stations to carry on their digital channels on CBSNews.com and CBS News Radio.