Tuesday, June 07, 2005

NBC, Hurting, Is Doing Too Much Promoting

I confess I'm an inveterate watcher of NBC News, to the exclusion of ABC and CBS, but all the promoting NBC is doing these days, especially given the Today program's rating problems, is annoying me.

It's not enough that they interrupt the Nightly News to tell you about what they'll be having on at 11 p.m., now they're touting Today interviews. All this takes away from the Nightly News, which only has 22 minutes of news already.

Monday night, June 6, it was an interview Katie Couric was going to have the next morning, with UN General Secretary Kofi Annan. After Annan had ducked an easy question on the promo about what he felt about U.S. criticisms of himself, it was most difficult to believe Annan would respond frankly to a promised Couric question the next morning about how he felt about the Bolton nomination.

That's one of the major problems with promos. They usually promise much more than they deliver. All during a news program, they keep trying to keep you watching by telling you what's ahead, and whatever's ahead seldom matches up to the the excitement promised in the promo.

Besides, who cares if Kofi Annan is going to be on the next morning, or ever? Now, if she was going to be interviewing Saddam Hussein, that might be different. Or displaying Osama bin Laden's head on a spike.

It may be asking too much, but what I generally want when I watch the Nightly News is the news, not tips to watch future programming.

Same thing with NBC's coverage of the Notre Dame football games. I resent hearing promos of future sports programming at moments when they should be discussing the game they're showing. And since I rarely watch pro sports in any case, I hate sullying the college games with references to the pros.

The Today program has fallen into a ratings battle with the ABC morning show, and, to me, the reason seems clear: Today is offering the same personalities it has for many years, and I, for one, am tired of them. I wouldn't mind if NBC hired Soledad O'Brien back from CNN, and put her in place of Katie Couric.

Also, now I read that Matt Lauer may have his marriage bust up because he's traveling so much for NBC. He supposedly returned early from the coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II, because he feared his wife was about to take a walk.

I can empathize with this, certainly to the point of seeing Lauer replaced on the Today show.

These TV jobs shouldn't last forever. In any event, to use promos to help prop up staggering shows isn't just improper, it's unavailing. NBC is just compounding its problems.

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