Nightline set to move from Times Square

By Reuters

Jul 21, 2006

Nightline will move its studios from Times Square to ABC News' headquarters uptown off Lincoln Square sometime this summer.

The post-Ted Koppel Nightline debuted in December with three coanchors, Terry Moran in Washington, DC, and Martin Bashir and Cynthia McFadden in New York. Much of the production, which had been based in Washington, DC, moved to New York and instead of a show taped on a single topic in the late afternoon, new executive producer James Goldston made the show live and multitopic.

Yet Goldston said Thursday that the Times Square studios have turned out in the last eight months to be less of a factor than had been originally believed.

"It's such a big studio space. It's designed for a big, live show and what we have found is that the shows have gone by, we've had less of those live elements," Goldston said of the Times Square space that viewers know as the studios of Good Morning America and Weekend Good Morning America. "I thought that we would have more of it but as shows evolve, the show itself tells you."

So Nightline will go to ABC News' TV3 studio at its headquarters, where World News and ABC News Overnight are produced. Sets are being built for Nightline, though the look and feel of the show won't change.

"There are significant cost savings, and it allows us to put more of our resources where we want them, on the reporting, which is what the show is about," Goldston said. It also brings the studio and control room into the same building as the Nightline offices, which Goldston said will help logistically.

There's no timetable, but it will be done by the end of the summer. While no ABC staffers will apparently lose their job, some production people will be reassigned because TV3 already has its own production staff.

No other changes will be made to the show, and Goldston repeated ABC's commitment to a live Nightline and a Washington component that averages out to about two nights per week.

While a number of critics complained that the changes to Nightline would be disastrous to what is one of the last bastions of serious news on the broadcast networks, it seems viewers have taken to heart Koppel's closing admonition to give the new crew a chance. Viewership has increased--even as its late-night competition has shown weakness--particularly in the second quarter. Nightline grew 4 percent in viewership to 3.4 million and 5 percent in the adults 25-54 demographic compared to the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Goldston said he was heartened by the response.

"The form had changed, but the content has been similar to the old show," he said. "We've proved it again and again and again."

And in recent weeks, Nightline has proved it for sure with correspondent John Donvan's reporting from the Middle East and Moran's recent reporting from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"I think there's a market for it," Goldston said of the serious reporting that Nightline has been known for. "There's continuing fragmentation, but Nightline has one of the great television brands and that's incredibly useful and quite powerful."

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  • outoffog Jul 21, 2006

    Why am I not surprised that ABC News decided that "NIGHTLINE" DIDN'T need that "fancy" Times Square studio? What did that backdrop do for the stories they cover..especially when the focus of most of them is now on Lebanon and Israel? My answer--absolutely nothing. The people who oversee "NIGHTLINE" are just starting to discover that fancy sets do not add ANYTHING to a late-night newsmagazine..and that's an improvement in itself.