“The CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell” did not air in East Coast time zones on Tuesday because of a technical glitch in the Washington, D.C. bureau where the newscast originates.
CBS News described the problem as a technical issue. The regular 6:30 p.m. ET “Evening News” broadcast was replaced by the feed for CBSN, the company’s 24-hour digital news network. CBS said the problem was fixed in time for the newscast to air in its regular slot in Mountain and West Coast time zones.
“CBS News experienced technical difficulties tonight that prevented the CBS Evening News from airing at 6:30 pm, ET on the CBS Television Network. The issue is being resolved, and the Mountain and West Coast versions of the CBS Evening News will air during the regular time slots at 6:30 PM, MT/PT. In place of the CBS Evening News on the East Coast, the network aired coverage from CBSN, CBS News’ streaming news service,” CBS said in a statement.
O’Donnell addressed the problem with a video clip posted via Instagram. “It’s a broadcast in the era of COVID,” she said.
The blackout came on the same night that “Evening News” was promoting O’Donnell’s sit-down interview with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg. CBS News directed East Coast viewers to a replay of “Evening News” on CBSN, which is a free ad-supported streaming service.
CBS News apologized for the snafu in a tweet sent about halfway through the “Evening News” time slot.
.@CBSNews is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We will bring you the CBS Evening News as soon as possible. We apologize for the issue.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 19, 2020
The sticky situation for CBS is complicated by the fact that the news division’s technical and editorial operations are no longer centered at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York because of the coronavirus lockdown. The facility has been mostly shuttered since March 11 after multiple CBS News employees were diagnosed with COVID-19.
The vast majority of CBS News employees, especially those in behind-the-scenes technical roles, are working from home, which made it harder for leaders to triage when it became clear that “Evening News” would not be able to air in its usual slot. Such a blackout is extremely rare for a Big Three network telecast.