Saturation Coverage For Jackson Rites

Z ON TV

July 07, 2009|By DAVID ZURAWIK

At 12 days and counting, the length of coverage has already run longer than anyone's idea of a state funeral. Today, the degree of saturation of TV coverage on the death of Michael Jackson reaches the boiling point.

All of the major networks and cable channels will be offering live coverage of the Jackson memorial service starting at 1 p.m. at the Staples center in Los Angeles.

NBC had looked as if it would skip live coverage and go only with a one-hour prime-time special Tuesday night. But network executives changed their plans Sunday, and announced that NBC will join ABC and CBS in covering the memorial service live with their top anchors.

Both Today show co-host Meredith Vieira and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will be at the Staples Center today. Vieira will serve as co-host of the Today show, while Williams anchors the memorial service. ABC has Charles Gibson penciled in at the anchor desk live from the Staples Center for its full court press this afternoon.

CBS didn't announce live coverage of the memorial service until Monday, but it already had Katie Couric in Los Angeles anchoring the CBS Evening News from the Staples Center. She will be out front on its live memorial broadcast starting at 1.

In addition to Couric's newscast, CBS has been doing its Early Sho w out of the Staples Center since Monday. And there is a prime-time Jackson hour planned for tonight with Couric as host. Among the networks, none gets the importance of this story more clearly than CBS.

Expect nonstop coverage on MSNBC, Fox and CNN throughout the day - unless there is a huge breaking story elsewhere. The 24/7 cable channels were among the first to announce plans to cover the memorial service live.

CNN, which has enjoyed a strong ratings surge for its Jackson programming, lists its coverage as starting at 6 a.m. with Kiran Chetry anchoring American Morning from Los Angeles. The memorial itself will become the focus at noon with Don Lemon continuing to anchor CNN's coverage from Los Angeles. He will be joined there by Soledad O'Brien, Anderson Cooper and Larry King.

Several of CNN's sister channels - HLN, CNN International and CNN en Espanol - will also be carrying the memorial live. Robin Meade, A.J. Hammer and Jane Velez-Mitchell will anchor the coverage at HLN (formerly Headline News).

Just as it did for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, CNN will team up with Facebook Connect so that Internet users can watch CNN coverage online as they update their Facebook status or communicate with friends using the CNN.com live video player. That coverage starts at 8:30 a.m.

Shepard Smith will be at the anchor desk for Fox News, while Megyn Kelly will be at the helm for coverage on the Fox broadcast network. Chris Jansing will be anchoring at MSNBC during the memorial service.

Ethnic and show biz channels will be running full throttle as well on this day and night of wall-to-wall Jackson programming.

TV One, the Maryland-based channel that targets black viewers, will offer live coverage at 1 p.m., with repeats at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Art Fennell and Jacque Reed, who anchored TV One's Democratic National Convention and election night coverage last year, will lead the coverage.

E! and TV Guide, both entertainment channels, will also be carrying the memorial service live starting at 1 p.m.

And, of course, with all that TV coverage, I'll be online all day at my blog, ZonTV, writing about this cultural story that has dominated old and new media for almost two weeks now.

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