When a crisis of such scope as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or the Haiti earthquake impacts us all, all the major broadcast networks come together and pitch us to do likewise for fellow human beings through hour-long, commercial-free fundraising specials. They raise millions of dollars for charities able to do the most good at the moment, and they cement the ability for the networks to put aside business as usual for accomplishing a greater society. The latest example: round three of Stand Up For Cancer two months ago.
That united front didn't happen last Friday night, when NBC and the majority of NBC Universal-owned cable networks arranged Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together. This hour-long presentation, arranged on 48-hour's notice, brought music superstars from Bruce Springsteen to Mary J. Blige aboard to drive relief for millions around the Northeast and East Coast impacted by the mammoth force of nature known as Sandy. CBS, ABC, Fox and The CW went their separate ways while NBC offered its live appeal, joined by HBO, Aspire, Discovery Fit & Health and other services. More than $22.9 million was raised via Coming Together, and video-on-demand replays available this week from cable and satellite operators promise to raise that total.
Why didn't solidarity happen here? You'd think it was as much a no-brainer as previous events.
Thanks to some reporting by TheWrap.com, coming out over the weekend, we have some idea why. Indeed, NBC invited all the other broadcast networks to jump in their project, no strings attached on Wednesday. The big reason for refusals: new or returning series premieres, such as Malibu Country on ABC and Undercover Boss at CBS. Under the mindset of these decision-makers, not rocking the boat for viewers awaiting these premieres was better than joining forces for the benefit of people unable that night to watch those programs, much less have shelter, food or other necessities of existence.
In this corner, the rationale comes off as baloney. Did it occur to CBS, ABC, Fox and The CW that they could have served both masters Friday night--run Coming Together at 8 p.m., followed by their big premieres an hour later? Sure could have, and didn't.
It's clear the other broadcast channels aren't ignoring the Sandy outcry. ABC has its "Day Of Giving" campaign this Monday, with parent Walt Disney making its own multi-million contribution for relief effort and using its cable networks to keep contributions coming in. Same at CBS and Fox--big corporate donation accompanied by station affiliate/cable network outreach.
Laudable and acknowledged. Yet you're left with the taste a great opportunity to stand united for people. still dealing this very moment with as destructive a force of nature on any corner of this planet, was lost.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!
Simon Applebaum is host/producer of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the Internet radio-distributed program all about TV, running live Mondays and Fridays on BlogTalk Radio--and soon to premiere as a weekly series on the new UBC-TV (UB for Urban Broadcasting) network. Replays of recent episodes are available at www.blogtalkradio.com/simonapple04. Have a question or comment? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the new Twitter hashtag @UBCSimonTWBT.
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