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Hurricane Sandy: why other networks passed on NBC's telethon

Date November 02, 2012

NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - NBC offered to let the other broadcast networks air its Hurricane Sandy telethon Friday night, but all passed and opted to pursue their own efforts to help the recovery effort, TheWrap has learned.

Every network is trying to help: ABC is devoting its entire broadcast day Monday to raising money for hurricane relief, and its parent company, Disney, has donated $2 million. Fox's corporate parent, News Corp., has given $1 million, and TheWrap has learned that CBS is also making a $1 million announcement without formally announcing it. Those are only the most high-profile efforts, which also include crawls and public service announcements.

None of its rivals took NBC up on its offer to air the benefit, which was quickly assembled and would have forced them to reschedule new programming. Both CBS and ABC are airing premieres tonight. NBC had planned a rerun of "Revolution" during the telethon's timeslot.

The NBC special will be hosted by "Today's" Matt Lauer and feature Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and NBC stars including Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Fallon and Brian Williams. (Among the non-NBC talent expected to take part is Kevin Bacon, the lead on the upcoming Fox show "The Following.") It will air on NBC Universal stations and on HBO at 8/7c.

A person at one broadcast network, speaking on condition of anonymity, said logistical problems were one reason it passed: NBC approached other networks Wednesday, ahead of announcing the telethon Thursday morning.

Additionally, all of the other networks were airing original series in the timeslot when NBC designated the telethon to air, which meant they had more to sacrifice than NBC.

Airing the telethon would have forced CBS to preempt the season premiere of "Undercover Boss." ABC would have had to preempt the debut of the new Wednesday comedy "Malibu Country" and the return of "Last Man Standing." Fox would have had to preempt an episode of "Kitchen Nightmares."

There is some precedent for all the networks coming together to air a telethon: the major broadcasters - and many other networks - aired all three "Stand Up for Cancer" specials simultaneously. But they were produced by an outside organization, not a single network.

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