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CBS offers apology for news break

Arafat special report irks Eye

NEW YORK — On Thursday, the Eye blamed an “overly aggressive” CBS News producer for breaking into “CSI: NY” just before 11 p.m. ET Wednesday with a special report on the death of Yasser Arafat.

The interruption came on the first Wednesday of the competitive November sweeps and in the final minutes of the popular frosh show. Net will rebroadcast the episode tonight in its entirety at 10 ET/PT in place of the previously skedded repeat of “CSI.”

“We sincerely regret the error,” CBS said in a statement.

“An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news,” the statement said.

Statement inferred that the producer went against standing orders in interrupting regularly scheduled programming to report on Arafat’s passing at a Paris hospital, particularly since local news was just about to begin in numerous markets.

ABC News and NBC News did not break in with the news.

Bob Lee, chair of the CBS Affiliates Assn. and general manager of WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va., said numerous CBS affils received complaints from viewers about the interruption. He said he contacted CBS after speaking with affiliate board members.

“I think it was a dumb mistake,” said Lee, adding that the network always has the option of feeding live news updates to local newscasts at 11:01.

“We may never know who was on duty, but somebody decided to push the button,” Lee said.

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