News organizations rush to launch broadband video news services

Providing a potential revenue stream for broadcasters, virtually all of the major news organizations are eager to “broadcast” their news content on the Web

With broadband Internet connections now available to half of American households, three of the nation’s largest news organizations are rushing to create major online video news services by this fall.

Declaring “this is a place that all journalism has to go,” CBS News president Andrew Heyward took steps to move his organization beyond television and to reverse it’s declining fortunes.

CBS News is aggressively expanding its Internet capabilities to offer a 24-hour news network with a “video jukebox” that allows consumers to construct their own online newscasts. Called “The EyeBox,” viewers can build their own newscast from exclusive Web video, material already broadcast on the network and archival material.

The updated Web site also will incorporate a blog — called “Public Eye” — that will allow CBS News executives and reporters to respond to questions and complaints from the public.

The advertiser-supported Web site will offer free access to more than 25,000 video clips. CBS reporters will be encouraged to frequently contribute video reports to the site instead of simply waiting for the next television broadcast.

Within days, CNN and the Associated Press announced plans for their own new broadband video news services. All will compete with the pioneering online veteran, ABC’s News Now.

CNN Pipeline is to be a new subscription broadband video news service. It will offer news content, for an as-yet-unannounced monthly charge, in four live, on-demand video streams from the day’s major news centers. Programming will include extensive on-demand video news reports, the usual range of and wire stories, and a search feature.

The Associated Press will launch an online video news service this fall that will use footage from the company’s worldwide video newsgathering service, APTN. To be called AP Online Video Network, the service will be supported by advertising that will be sold through a partner organization.

AP’s effort will be directed primarily to its members, but will also be available to non-member sites. The video service will be offered free of charge, and the revenues will be split between the AP and the individual members depending on how much viewer traffic each site brings to the network.

CNN’s four live streams of video content will be available 24/7. For viewing, the service will use a downloadable player that works only on PCs equipped with Microsoft Windows. Apple Macintosh users will be able to access many of the features through a Web-based interface.

CBS has decided to treat its online news site much the way other networks treat their cable news channels. Its correspondents and producers will create video news reports throughout the day that will be distributed only on the Web site. In addition, Web users will be able to see most of the breaking-news reports used on the network’s daily broadcasts, though they will not be able to watch entire programs.

CBS’ contracts with its affiliated TV stations prohibit relaying most of its broadcast programs over the Web. To get around that, Bob Schieffer, the anchor of “The CBS Evening News,” will be the host of a somewhat shorter edition for the Web. But the main point of the new service will be to let viewers assemble their own Internet newscasts selecting from dozens of reports at any given time.

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