Nightline Information

Nightline, or ABC News Nightline is a late-night news program broadcast by ABC in the United States, and has a franchised formula to other networks and stations elsewhere in the world. Created by Roone Arledge, the program featured Ted Koppel as its main anchor from March 1980 until his retirement from the program in November 2005. Nightline airs weeknights at 12:35 a.m. EST, after Jimmy Kimmel Live!. It originally ran for 31 minutes, but in 2011 was reduced to 25 minutes. When the program moved to 12:35 a.m. EST, the program was expanded to 30 minutes.

ABC announced that on January 8, 2013, the show's start time would be moved to 12:35 a.m., following Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and would run for 30 minutes.

The network will give Nightline a one-hour news magazine program on Fridays at 9 p.m., starting on March 1, 2013.

In 2002, Nightline was ranked 23rd on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

The Iran Crisis"?America Held Hostage: 1979

The program had its beginnings on November 8, 1979, just four days after the Iran hostage crisis started. ABC News president Roone Arledge felt the best way to compete against NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was to update Americans on the latest news from Iran. At that time, the show was called: "The Iran Crisis"?America Held Hostage: Day xxx" where xxx represented each day Iranians held hostage the occupants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Originally, World News Tonight lead anchor Frank Reynolds hosted the special report. Shortly after its creation, Reynolds stopped hosting the program. Ted Koppel, then ABC News's State Department Correspondent, took on the hosting duties. It wasn't until a few days later that a producer had the idea of displaying the number of days on "America Held Hostage": Day 15, Day 50, Day 150, and so on.

Ted Koppel's Nightline: 1980–2005

At the end of the hostage crisis in 1981 (after 444 days), Nightline had entrenched itself on the ABC programming schedule, and made Koppel a national figure. The program has prided itself on providing a mix of investigative journalism and extended interviews which would look out of place on World News Tonight. Thanks to a video sharing agreement with the BBC, Nightline also repackages some of the BBC's output for an American audience. Nightline broadcasts also reappear in a condensed form on the overnight program World News Now.

The program aired four nights a week until 1982, when the sketch comedy program Fridays was shifted to air after Nightline.

The format of the show was as follows: first there was the introduction by the host, then a taped piece on the specific topic of the night, then after a commercial break, there was a live interview related to the topic of the piece. In 1983, there was an unsuccessful attempt to change the format of the show to multi-topics and an hour as opposed to a single topic in a half hour. This switch proved to be unsuccessful, and after a few months, the old program was restored. Once the original format was restored, it remained unchanged through the end of Koppel's tenure; it was changed following his retirement.

The program remains unique in American media, considering its nightly broadcasts. Most other similar shows only air once a week, though usually in a prime time slot for a full hour. Nightline is usually less sensationalistic than the weekly news magazines (which often emphasize soft news programming), though the program has caused controversy on occasion.

Memorable subjects

Nightline devoted each episode to a unique subject. Since its inception, they have covered many subjects (science, education, politics, economics, society, and breaking news). Many candidates for government offices, such as David Duke (November 1991) have appeared on Nightline to try to promote themselves. Seeing that there are so many prisons in the United States, they created an ongoing series in 1994 called "Crime and Punishment." Over the years Nightline had a number of technological firsts. They did the first live report from the base of Mount Everest. In November 1992, Science reporter Michael Guillen did the first ever live broadcast from Antarctica. There were times where there was breaking news as late as 11:00 ET, and they had to change the subject of the show and cover the breaking news. Examples of this were the deaths of John Lennon (1980) and Yasir Arafat (2004).

Other important series were "America: In Black and White" and " A Matter of Choice." Nightline held a series of townhall meetings. Some of the more important ones include the Israeli-Palestinian Town Meeting in 1987 and one discussing the War of Iraq in 2003. The interview was a major portion of the episode where important people were asked tough questions on the spot. Another series of townhall meetings featured public discussions and appearances by Japanese officials on the poor performance of American business during the 1980s, contrasted with the success of Japanese businesses. These townhall meetings coincided with the corporate takeovers of US companies by Japanese corporations during the early 1990s (i.e. MCA by Matsushita, CBS Records and Columbia Pictures by Sony Corporation, etc.)

Perhaps the most infamous episode of Nightline occurred on April 15, 1987. During the episode, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers executive Al Campanis made racially insensitive comments. When Ted Koppel asked Campanis about why there were not that many black field or general managers in Major League Baseball, Campanis responded by saying that blacks may lack the "necessities." What soon followed was what many observers believed was Campanis coming off worse and worse despite the numerous chances from Koppel to clarify himself. Shortly after the interview, the Dodgers fired Campanis.

On December 3, 1990, Nightline played the Madonna's controversial music video "Justify My Love" (the video contained imagery of sadomasochism, voyeurism and bisexuality) in its entirety, then interviewed Madonna live about the video's sexual content and censorship. When asked whether she stood to make more money selling the video than airing it on MTV, she shrugged and answered, "Yeah, so? Lucky me." She also mentioned that the banning was hypocritical as male artists were able to show music videos on the channel which contained sexist and violent imagery. She also mentioned that in her "Vogue" music video she had worn a see-through lace top which exposed her breasts, but this was passed by the channel.


  • 2008 - John Edwards admits on Nightline to cheating on his wife with a campaign staffer.
  • 2005 - Ted Koppel's last show as host of Nightline.
  • 1997 - Nightline airs "ABC Exclusive" footage of Pol Pot's trial, in violation of an agreement with journalist Nate Thayer
  • 1988 - Nightline goes on location to Jerusalem.
  • 1987 - Nightline is seen in U.S.S.R. for first time.
  • 1987 - Gary Hart admits on Nightline to cheating on his wife.
  • 1987 - Nightline presents its first "Town Meeting" the subject is AIDS and the show runs until 3:47 AM
  • 1987 - Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker appear on Nightline after PTL scandal.
  • 1987 - Al Campanis, Los Angeles Dodgers executive for more than forty years, resigns after making racially insensitive remarks on Nightline.
  • 1986 - Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos appear on Nightline.
  • 1985 - First remote location for Nightline (South Africa).
  • 1984 - 40th Anniversary of D-Day. Nightline "covers" the D-Day landings as though modern TV news, along with satellite reports, had existed at the time.
  • 1984 - First live TV appearance by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.
  • 1983 - Nightline expands from a half-hour to a full-hour program.
  • 1982 - PLO chief Yassar Arafat appears on Nightline.
  • 1981 - Nightline extends from four nights to five nights a week (Friday).
  • 1981 - Nightline with Ted Koppel premières on ABC.
  • 1981 - Nightline with Ted Koppel extended from twenty minutes to thirty minutes.
  • 1980 - ABC's nightly Iran Hostage crisis program renamed Nightline.
  • 1979 - ABC broadcasts "Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage" with Frank Reynolds (forerunner to Nightline).

Reading of the names

On April 30, 2004, Koppel read the names of the members of the United States Armed Forces who were killed in Iraq. This prompted controversy from conservatives who believed Koppel was making a political statement and from Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which felt that ABC was undermining the war effort in Iraq. Others, most notably the Washington Post television columnist, thought it was a ratings stunt for sweeps, and indeed Nightline was the highest-rated program during that time period, and had about 30% more viewers than other Nightline programs that week. Sinclair stations did not air the program.

Koppel repeated the format on May 28, 2004, reading the names of service members killed in Afghanistan, and on May 30, 2005, reading the names of all service members killed in Afghanistan or Iraq between the last program and the preparation of the program. This time, Sinclair stations aired the program as scheduled.

Ratings and threats of cancellation

Rumors have spread for many years about the show's cancellation. However, during the so-called "late show wars" of 1993, when the Late Show with David Letterman began competing with The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, some in the industry believed that Nightline would wind up in first place. And on occasion, when a big news story occurred, Nightline would top its entertainment rivals.

In 2002, ABC attempted to hire David Letterman from CBS, a move that would likely have forced Nightline's cancellation. However, Letterman opted to re-sign with CBS. An unverified story suggests that Letterman would have made the move had a Letterman show at ABC started at 12:05 in order to preserve Nightline. When ABC added Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2003, it was placed at the 12:06 timeslot instead of the 11:35 slot of Nightline, again preventing cancellation.

Koppel anchored his final Nightline broadcast on November 22, 2005, despite his contract ending in December. He announced in March 2005 he was leaving the show at the end of his contract. He closed his final Nightline broadcast urging viewers to continue watching the program, saying that otherwise, "it could be replaced by a comedy show"

Ratings have been up since the new format has begun, even beating the Late Show with David Letterman for three consecutive weeks in August 2006 and again in 2008. In fact, Nightline was the most-watched late-night television program during the 2011-2012 television season.

Koppel's final "Closing Thought"

On November 22, 2005, Ted Koppel retired from Nightline after 25 years on the show, and left ABC News after 42 years. Koppel's final broadcast of Nightline did not feature clips, or highlighting moments, as typical when an anchor retires. Instead it featured Koppel's 1995 interview with college professor Morrie Schwartz, who was suffering with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Every so often, Koppel ended the program with a "Closing Thought". This segment is usually when he expressed his opinion on the subject of the night's show. On his final night, the following was his "Closing Thought".

Post-Koppel Nightline: 2005–present

On November 28, 2005, Koppel was succeeded by a three-anchor team: Martin Bashir and Cynthia McFadden at Times Square Studios in New York City and Terry Moran in Washington, D.C.. Along with the new anchors, Nightline is now live every night and has a multi-topic format"?that covers multiple stories in each broadcast. There are many critics of the multi-topic format due to the fact that it is more difficult to focus on a subject in depth when there is much less time devoted to the subject, and that more stories seem to be focusing on popular culture, rather than news events.

On July 11, 2006, Ted Koppel made a surprise appearance on Nightline to discuss with co-anchor Terry Moran the prisoner situation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and to discuss his upcoming series for Discovery Channel. It was his first appearance on the broadcast since leaving the show in November 2005.

As of August 7, 2006 ABC had ceased Nightline's New York operations from Times Square and moved to ABC News Headquarters in Lincoln Square, citing high production costs and logistical problems. Even though Nightline moved to ABC Headquarters in Lincoln Square, several shows have been taped at ABC's Times Square location, mainly with Martin Bashir's coverage.

Nightline is developing an online program hosted by the show's anchors through Twitter, encouraging viewer discussion on the website.

In November 2009, Nightline achieved the number-one spot in the Nielsen ratings for late night broadcasts, the first time averaging 4.15 million viewers. It beat The Tonight Show and The Late Show in total viewers.


In August 2010, Martin Bashir left Nightline to be an anchor on NBC and MSNBC; he was subsequently replaced by Bill Weir.

On January 20, 2011, ABC News president Ben Sherwood announced that late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! would start at midnight ET, shortening Nightline to 25 minutes. It was also announced that Nightline would gain 13 primetime hours to produce content for the network.

On August 21, 2012, ABC announced that the program will switch positions with Jimmy Kimmel Live! on its schedule beginning January 8, 2013, and will expand to 30 minutes. Nightline will therefore be bumped to 12:35 a.m. ET. ABC is also giving Nightline a prime time news magazine starting March 1, 2013, which will air Fridays at 9 p.m. It will replace Primetime: What Would You Do?, which will move to a different time slot.

International broadcasts

Country TV Network(s) Weekly Schedule (local time)
Sky News Australia Airs at 1:30AM (AET)
NHK-BS1 4:30PM (JST)

See also

  • List of late night network TV programs
  • Lateline, an Australian program similar to Nightline

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nightline" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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