Network News Wastes Primetime on Royal Heir

abc Royal Wedding Barbara Walters

Fine, throw a tea party. But shouldn't there be room for hard news in primetime, too?

Nobody can blame NBC for finding an excuse to preempt “Siberia” — in this case, to air a special about the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s baby. Naturally, ABC announced plans for its own primetime hour to air Tuesday, “The Royal Baby: Heir to the Throne.” Hey, it’s July. Why not?

The larger issue is how seldom the broadcast networks take advantage of their primetime real estate to cover anything that approaches serious news, as opposed to self-promotional nonsense, like ABC’s “Revenge for Real,” or silly infotainment stunts, like that network’s “What Would You Do?” and its latest bastard cousin, “Would You Fall for That?” (The answer is “If you would watch something titled ‘Would you Fall for That?,'” then yes, yes you would.)

These are serious times, with major issues afoot. Most people don’t understand the changes coming to the healthcare law and couldn’t find the Middle East on a map. The George Zimmeran trial has renewed discussions about race, gun laws and profiling of African-Americans. And the level of dysfunction in Washington has even relatively calm folks like Bob Schieffer railing against Congress and a dysfunctional system.

Granted, these are complex issues, and many of them have a shaky history in terms of attracting an audience. But faced with those hurdles, the networks have largely thrown in the towel. And say what you want about “Rock Center,” NBC’s failed newsmagazine, but its cancellation will no doubt be seized upon as an excuse to fall back on the usual assortment of true crime, celebrity and sleaze in those rare instances when the news divisions do get a primetime berth.

SEE MORE: It’s a Boy for Kate Middleton and Prince William

One can argue, frankly, whether the U.S. audience is truly as enamored with the Royals as its media. As my colleague Tim Gray suggested, “The media’s fascination with the royals feeds the public’s frenzy.”

OK, fine. Throw a primetime tea party, complete with white gloves. Besides, the presumed skew of the Royal Baby story toward women — especially those in desirable younger demos — makes the discussion moot.

We’re going to be fed a whole lot of it. As the coverage in weekly magazines and on the network morning shows has made clear, these Royals are almost as important as the Kardashians.

But as Oliver Twist might say, “Could we please have some more real news, too?”

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  1. p3orion says:

    Well of course they’re talking about a British baby. It’s not as if there’s anything else going on, like a coup in Egypt (while John Kerry cruises on hi yacht), the Benghazi coverup, the IRS coverup, the Fast and Furious coverup, five straight years of high unemployment and record deficits, and government-orchestrated racial tensions. Why WOULDN’t the major media (AKA, the DNC stenography pool) talk about the new prince?

  2. EK says:

    Chill. For precisely the reasons you so eloquently detailed — the woes of our times — it’s okay to have a little non-controversial, less stomach-churning prime moment from time to time. Television is a diversion, or at least should be, not a place for the constant reminder of our troubling times. That’s what 60 Minutes is for. And, yes, Rock Center is a loss. But a little baby babble won’t do any harm and might even provide a momentary respite from the other stuff which we already feel all too profoundly. So ease up TV guru. You may thrive on angst but not everybody does.

    • rob1 says:

      Oh and I do love a good baby story. This pretty little prince won’t be able to poo in peace for decades to come. He has lovely parents and one hopes he gets a good dose of reality from the Middleton side of the family. The Windsors will take care of the extraordinary side of life. He will need a suit of armor worthy of his forebears to endure the pressures of public life thrust upon his little bouncing bottom. I hope they name him James. He could learn much about life from a small book written by a wise man by the same name. I would guess they have a copy of the Bible at Windsor and Buckingham. He will need much wisdom if he is care for his people six or seven decades from now if we are all lucky enough to still be on the big blue ball we call home. Fortunately for him Grandpapa is an eco buff who just might help him understand the importance of a tree and a bee and the odd bird or two. Dad will teach him to fly. Mom will teach him to love and to be patient. Uncle Harry and auntie Pippa will make sure he knows how to have fun in a world without privacy. Good luck little prince. Good luck.

    • rob1 says:

      Really! Your idea of a hard news forum is “60 Minutes”. That is a news magazine and opinion source with the moral backbone of a yellow banana slug. There isn’t a network news show operating that can simply deliver factual news today and that includes Fox. There isn’t a network news organization today willing to pay for and do the investigative journalism required to report factual news because they all believe speed trumps truth. They live in a bubble of their own creation delivering an edited view of life as we live it doled out in thirty second snippets of trivial entertainment so they can sell product they tell us we need. The fact we can’t afford it isn’t even news worthy to these trolls.

      The viewing public has options today. It can find its own news faster and more accurately toward a general understanding of current events on the internet rather than a network. When the powers that be figure that out and produce a show that can add to the texture of what we already know by procuring fact based confirmed details wrapped up in some amount of depth and gilded in truth they could be relevant again. Until then they are all seriously over paid entertainers and their queen is Diane Sawyer.

    • The Kingslayer says:

      i completelty agree, well said.

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