ABC World News Tonight
|ABC World News Tonight|
The title card for ABC World News Tonight with David Muir
|Created by||Roone Arledge|
David Muir (2014–present)
Diane Sawyer (2009–2014)
Charles Gibson (2006–2009)
Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff (2005–2006)
Peter Jennings (1983–2005)
Frank Reynolds (1969–1970, 1978–1983)
Barbara Walters (1976–1978)
Harry Reasoner (1970–1978)
Howard K. Smith (1969–1975)
|Narrated by||Bill Rice (1966–2009)
Mike Rowe (2009–2012)
|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Almin Karamehmedovic|
|Location(s)||ABC News Headquarters, New York City, New York|
|Running time||15 minutes (1953–1967)
30 minutes (1967–present)
|Production company(s)||ABC News Productions|
|Picture format||720p/1080p (HDTV)
480i (16:9 SDTV)
|Original run||1953 (as John Charles Daly and the News),
1965 (as Peter Jennings with the News),
1970 (as ABC Evening News),
July 10, 1978 (as World News Tonight),
July 19, 2006 (as World News),
December 21, 2009 (as ABC World News),
August 28, 2014 (as "ABC World News Tonight") – present
ABC World News Tonight with David Muir (known merely as ABC World News Tonight on weekends) is the flagship daily evening television news program of ABC News, the news division of the American Broadcasting Company television network in the United States. Weekday broadcasts are anchored by David Muir. Since Muir was promoted to weekdays, Cecilia Vega has appeared more frequently on weekends. Rebecca Jarvis, Dan Harris and Tom Llamas have also appeared.
The program has been anchored at various times by a number of other people since its debut in 1953. It also has used various titles, including ABC Evening News from 1970 to 1978, World News Tonight from 1978 to 2006, and ABC World News from 2006 to 2014. It is the second-most watched newscast in the United States, trailing slightly behind NBC Nightly News.
- 1 History
- 2 World News Tonight (1st incarnation)
- 3 World News
- 4 World News Tonight
- 5 Weekend newscasts
- 6 International newscasts
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Sources
- 10 External links
ABC began a nightly newscast in the fall of 1953 with John Charles Daly as anchor of the then-15-minute John Charles Daly and the News. Daly, who also hosted the CBS game show What's My Line? contemporaneously, anchored the newscast until 1960 with multiple hosts and formats succeeding him. Anchors during the early 1960s included[clarification needed] Alex Dreier, John Secondari, Fendall Winston Yerxa, Al Mann, Bill Shadel, John Cameron Swayze (formerly of NBC), Bill Laurence, and Bill Sheehan. In 1962, Ron Cochran was made full-time anchor of the program, serving until 1965. Then, in 1965, a 26-year-old Canadian, Peter Jennings, was named anchor of Peter Jennings with the News.
In 1967, the inexperienced Jennings left the anchor chair and was reassigned as an international correspondent for the news program. ABC News was hosted, in succession, by Bob Young (October 1967 to May 1968), Frank Reynolds (May 1968 to May 1969), and, eventually, Reynolds and Howard K. Smith (May 1969 to December 1970). The program expanded from 15 to 30 minutes in January 1967, 40 months after both CBS and NBC had expanded their evening news programs to a half-hour.
Reasoner, Smith, and Walters
Harry Reasoner, formerly of CBS News and 60 Minutes, joined ABC News in 1970 to co-anchor the ABC Evening News with Smith, beginning that December, replacing Reynolds. In 1975, Smith was moved to commentator, and Reasoner briefly assumed sole-anchor responsibilities until his pairing in 1976 with Barbara Walters, the first female network anchor. Ratings for the nightly news broadcast declined shortly thereafter, possibly due in part to the lack of chemistry between Reasoner and Walters. Reasoner would eventually return to CBS and 60 Minutes, while Walters became a regular on the newsmagazine 20/20.
"First News" strategy (1967–1982)
Because the ABC network had nowhere near the number of affiliates as the other two major networks and, thus, especially in smaller markets, was sometimes carried by a station primarily affiliated with another network, ABC News chose to feed its evening newscast to its affiliates at 6 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Central Time, one half-hour ahead of CBS and NBC. Even in areas with three full-time affiliates, ABC stations often opted to broadcast the news in the 6 p.m./5 p.m. timeslot to entice viewers by presenting the day's national and international news first, thus making it more likely that they would stay tuned to the station's local newscast immediately following the program (or one half-hour afterward), instead of turning to CBS or NBC. In some markets, especially in the Eastern Time Zone, it was not unusual for the ABC affiliate to air its local newscast at 5:30 p.m., followed by the network news at 6 p.m., then syndicated situation comedy reruns or game shows from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (or 8 p.m., after the Prime Time Access Rule went into effect in 1971). As the youngest and least-viewed of the networks, ABC News employed the strategy to get a foothold on the American public's consciousness, although stations were quite free to tape-delay the feed in order to run it against the other two networks, or, in some larger markets especially, at 7 p.m./6 p.m.
By 1982, when nearly all of the nation was served by full-time ABC affiliates and the evening newscast began winning the ratings, the network discontinued the practice of running the program in the earlier timeslot and started feeding the program to stations at the conventional time of 6:30 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific)/5:30 p.m. (Central/Mountain) on weeknights. However, the weekend editions still air live at 6 p.m./5 p.m.
World News Tonight (1st incarnation)
The early years (1978–1983)
Always the perennial third in the national ratings, ABC News president Roone Arledge reformatted the program, relaunching it as World News Tonight on July 10, 1978. Reynolds, demoted when the network hired Reasoner, returned as lead anchor, reporting from Washington, D.C.. Max Robinson, the first African American network news anchor, anchored national news from Chicago, Illinois, and, also returning for a second stint, Jennings reported international headlines from London, United Kingdom. Occasional contributions included special reports by Walters, who was credited as anchor of the special coverage desk from New York City and worldwide, and commentary by Smith, who was easing into eventual retirement. The program's distinct and easily identifiable theme (whose four-note musical signature was eventually used on other ABC News programs) was written by Bob Israel. Ratings slowly climbed to the point where World News Tonight eventually beat both NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News, marking the first time ever that ABC had the most-popular network evening newscast.
Also during this time, World News Tonight aired an open-captioned version on various public television stations throughout the U.S., produced by Boston, Massachusetts, station WGBH-TV. In place of commercials, WGBH inserted additional news stories, some of which were of special interest to the hearing impaired, as well as late-news developments, weather forecasts, and sports scores. This version aired mostly in late-night timeslots, several hours after the original ABC broadcast.
Peter Jennings (1983–2005)
- See also: Peter Jennings: Leaving the chair
In April 1983, Reynolds became ill, leaving both Jennings and Robinson to co-anchor the broadcast until he planned to return; he never did and died from bone cancer on July 20, 1983. A rotation of anchors hosted the program until August 9, 1983, when Jennings became the sole anchor and senior editor of World News Tonight. The program began broadcasting from New York City on a regular basis in September 1983, at which time Bill Owen replaced Bill Rice as announcer for a year.
In September 1984, the program was renamed World News Tonight with Peter Jennings in order to reflect its sole anchor and senior editor. Robinson left ABC News in 1984, after stints of hosting news briefs and anchoring weekend editions of World News Tonight; he died from complications of AIDS in 1988. With Jennings as lead anchor, World News Tonight was the most-watched national newscast from February 27, 1989, to November 1, 1996, but from then until February 2007, it was in second place behind its main rival, NBC Nightly News.
In April 2005, Jennings announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and, as before, other ABC News anchors, mostly consisting of 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas and Good Morning America co-anchor Charles Gibson, filled in for him. Jennings died of lung cancer on August 7, 2005, at his apartment in New York City, at age 67.
The August 8, 2005, edition of the program was dedicated to Jennings's memory and four-decade career in news. His death ended the era of the so-called "Big Three" anchors: Jennings, NBC's Tom Brokaw, and CBS's Dan Rather (the latter two had retired from their positions as the respective anchors of NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News within the year prior to Jennings's death). During his career, Jennings had reported from every major world capital and war zone, and from all 50 U.S. states, according to the network. Jennings was known for his ability to calmly portray events as they were happening and for his coverage of many major world events.
As a tribute to its late anchor, ABC continued to introduce the broadcast as World News Tonight with Peter Jennings in the week following his death. Charles Gibson anchored the broadcast the first part of the week; Bob Woodruff anchored the final edition of World News Tonight with Peter Jennings on August 12, 2005. That night's broadcast ended with one of Jennings's favorite pieces of music instead of the traditional theme music. Beginning on August 15, 2005, the broadcast was introduced simply as World News Tonight and it remained that way until January 2006.
Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas (January–May 2006)
In early December 2005, ABC News announced that Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff would be the new permanent co-anchors, replacing Jennings. People in the news industry looked at the choice of Vargas and Woodruff by ABC News as the start of a new era in network television news.
The broadcast was produced live three times per day – the regular live broadcast for the Eastern and Central Time Zones, plus separate broadcasts for the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. In addition, a live webcast, World News Now (not to be confused with ABC's overnight news program of the same name), with a newsbrief and a preview of that evening's broadcast, was added. The webcast airs live at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC News Now and ABCNews.com and can be viewed throughout the rest of the day after 4 p.m. Eastern Time. [clarification needed]
On January 29, 2006, Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were injured by a road-side bomb while riding in an Iraqi military convoy. Both underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Balad, Iraq (50 miles north of Baghdad). It was reported that both men suffered head injuries, even though they were both wearing body armor and helmets. Both men were then evacuated to a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Woodruff and Vogt were later transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital in the U.S. for further treatment and released for outpatient treatment. Within a few months after Woodruff's accident, ABC News announced that Vargas was pregnant and due to give birth in late summer.
For about a month, Good Morning America co-hosts Gibson and Sawyer had taken turns co-anchoring the newscast with Vargas. During the spring of 2006, Vargas mostly anchored the broadcast alone, becoming the first de facto solo female evening news anchor. At the time, it was unknown what ABC News planned to do until Woodruff returned to the anchor chair, which appeared to be nowhere in the near future, and when Vargas began her maternity leave. Rumors flew that Sawyer wanted to become the sole anchor of WNT in order to beat Katie Couric's switch to the CBS anchor chair. However, the New York Post 's Cindy Adams reported that Gibson would become Woodruff's "temporary permanent replacement".
Also starting in the spring of 2006, the West Coast editions of World News Tonight were scaled back because Vargas anchored the broadcast on her own at the time.
Charles Gibson (May 2006–December 18, 2009)
In May 2006, Vargas announced her resignation from World News Tonight. Gibson was then named sole anchor of the program, effectively replacing Vargas and her injured co-anchor Woodruff. Vargas cited her doctors' recommendation to cut back her schedule considerably because of her maternity leave, and her wish to spend more time with her new baby. She has since returned to co-anchor 20/20 and ABC News specials, and has substituted for Gibson on World News Tonight.
While the 3 p.m. World News Now webcast remains, the separate Mountain and Pacific Time Zone editions were discontinued. Gibson continued to update the newscast as warranted for these time zones, but the entire newscast was not presented live, as was previously the case.
Some media analysts found the reasons for the change to Gibson as anchor to be merely a cover for ABC News's real intentions to bring stability to its flagship news program that had been slipping in the ratings, and to attract some older viewers away from the CBS Evening News with interim anchor Bob Schieffer. Indeed, the advertising campaign focused on Gibson's experience, calling Gibson "Your Trusted Source", similar to a campaign for Jennings, "Trust Is Earned", in the wake of the Killian documents controversy at CBS and Brian Williams's assumption of the NBC anchor chair.
On July 19, 2006, ABC News announced that World News Tonight would have its name officially changed to World News with Charles Gibson. The network chose to make the (albeit minor) name change in order to reflect the program's expansion into the "24-hour space created by the digital world".
In the February 2007 sweeps, World News with Charles Gibson achieved the number-one spot in the Nielsen ratings among the network evening news broadcasts, overtaking NBC Nightly News. This was ABC News's first victory since the week Jennings died in August 2005.
Starting in April 2007, Gibson announced that Monday broadcasts of World News would be expanded editions allowing only one commercial interruption to feature extended special segments on global warming.[clarification needed]
World News With Charles Gibson won the May 2007 sweeps period decisively over NBC Nightly News, marking Gibson's second consecutive sweeps win and widening the program's lead in the evening-news race. It was the first time World News had won consecutive sweeps since 1996, the year ABC News ceded the ratings crown to NBC News 's Brokaw. NBC was back on top in the December 2007 sweeps and the two programs remained in a tight race until the fall of 2008, when the NBC program established a consistent lead.
On December 31, 2007, World News with Charles Gibson debuted a new high-definition-ready set, featuring the ABC News logo prominently carved out of wood in front with logo's colors, a rear-projection screen, and plasma screens. It began broadcasting in high definition on August 25, 2008, during its coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The graphics were updated, although the theme music was left unchanged.
On September 2, 2009, ABC News announced that Gibson would retire from ABC News altogether on December 18, 2009, and that Sawyer would assume the anchor desk on December 21, 2009. Gibson's final broadcast ended with a video tribute that included all of the living former U.S. Presidents, former ABC anchors, actors and actresses, singers, comedians, Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, athletes, the commander of the International Space Station, competitors Couric and Williams, and was capped off by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Diane Sawyer (December 21, 2009–August 27, 2014)
Long-time ABC journalist and anchorwoman Diane Sawyer began anchoring the broadcast on December 21, 2009. On the same date, the program debuted an updated set, new graphics during the introductory segment, along with a new announcer, Mike Rowe, who replaced longtime announcer Bill Rice. A new set for the program debuted on August 23, 2010.
The Sawyer tenure was marked by a shift towards more "news your can use" features, and less of a focus on hard international news. World News at the time had a 60% female viewership, the highest of the three major newscasts.
On October 1, 2012, World News debuted a new logo, opening theme (which was composed by Hans Zimmer, replacing the longtime Bob Israel-composed theme), an updated set and new graphics package. The program also introduced called the "Instant Index", a feature appearing as the penultimate segment of each night's broadcast focusing on news stories that are trending on social media.
On June 25, 2014, ABC News announced that Sawyer would step down as the weekday anchor of ABC World News and would be replaced by David Muir, at the time the show's weekend anchor, effective September 2. Sawyer ultimately left the show earlier to spend time with family on August 27, 2014.
On July 28, 2014, ABC debuted a slightly updated set; it includes a new, larger big screen behind the anchor desk.
Diane Sawyer ended her tenure at ABC World News on August 27, 2014. Sawyer left the World News anchor desk as the #1 broadcast in all major key demos and significantly closed the gap in total viewers..
Weekend World News anchor and weekday correspondent David Muir, Good Morning America co-anchor and Chief Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulos, 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas, former Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden, weekend Good Morning America anchor Dan Harris, correspondent Paula Faris, and correspondent Byron Pitts have all anchored in place of Sawyer and/or Muir.
World News Tonight
David Muir (September 1, 2014–present)
On September 1, 2014, David Muir became the weekday anchor and managing editor of the program while retaining his co-anchor duties on 20/20. However, George Stephanopoulos assumed the Chief Anchor duties that had been traditionally assigned to the World News anchor. Following the departure of Diane Sawyer, the title of the program was also silently rebranded back to World News Tonight for the first time since 2006.
ABC's first attempt at an early evening weekend newscast took place in July 1975, with a Saturday bulletin anchored by Ted Koppel. The broadcast, however, was not carried by many stations, and it was cancelled about one year later.
Three years afterward, WNT expanded to six nights a week with World News Sunday on January 28, 1979, and to a full seven days with the return to Saturdays on January 5, 1985, years after the two other historical networks had added weekend newscasts. These editions added the word "Tonight" to the program title in the mid-1990s, and in the mid-2000s, their respective names were shortened to simply World News Tonight to correspond with the weekday editions. However, the original names were restored on July 19, 2006, to go along with the weekday broadcast's name change, but the opening title sequence displayed the name as World News for both days.
Prior to 1975, the only network newscasts that ABC stations broadcast on weekends were 15-minute late-night updates on Saturdays and Sundays, seen on many affiliates in tandem with the local 11 p.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Central newscasts, although some stations opted to tape-delay them until immediately before sign-off time; rival CBS also offered a 15-minute Sunday night bulletin during the 1970s and 1980s. Because of declining affiliate interest from low viewership (in part because of the proliferation of 24-hour cable news channels such as CNN), ABC discontinued the late-night weekend reports in September 1991.
Also, starting in 1973, weeknight co-anchor Harry Reasoner hosted The Reasoner Report, a half-hour topical look at important stories (especially breaking developments in the Watergate scandal) in the vein of CBS's 60 Minutes, which Reasoner himself co-moderated at two different times. Affiliates usually carried the program on Saturday evenings in the time slots where the main newscast aired on weeknights. The program, which had affiliate clearance problems and was thus unsuccessful in terms of ratings, ended in 1975, replaced by the network's inaugural Saturday newscast (see above).
Some former anchors of the weekend news broadcasts include Sam Donaldson (World News Sunday, 1979–1988), Kathleen Sullivan (World News Saturday, 1985–1987), Charles Gibson (World News Saturday, 1987–1988), Forrest Sawyer (Weekends, 1988–2000), Carole Simpson (Weekends, 1988–2003), Aaron Brown (World News Saturday, 2006-2007), Terry Moran (World News Saturday, 2004–2005), Bob Woodruff (World News Sunday, 2004–2005), Dan Harris (World News Sunday, 2006–2011) and David Muir (World News Saturday, 2007-2011; ABC World News with David Muir, 2011–2014). Muir, who had taken over World News Saturday in 2007, took over the Sunday broadcast in 2011 (effectively ending the practice of using separate anchors for the Saturday and Sunday editions of the program), ABC had renamed both broadcasts to ABC World News with David Muir.
Some ABC affiliates (particularly those located in the Central and Mountain Time Zones) air the Sunday edition of World News at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central – one half-hour earlier than the rest of the week's broadcasts – in which case, the ABC affiliate airs the network newscast before their local early-evening newscast or in some markets, between two such local newscasts that bookend it (this is the same with CBS, which airs the Sunday edition of the CBS Evening News on all of its affiliates at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central). Some ABC affiliates, however (such as WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth and WSB-TV in Atlanta), do not carry the Sunday edition of World News at all; weekend news clearances have always been a problem for the three historic networks. The weekend editions of World News may occasionally be abbreviated (with segments and stories originally scheduled to be broadcast that night excised to account for the decreased running time) or preempted outright due to sports telecasts that overrun into the program's timeslot or occasionally air immediately following the program (the latter pre-emption situation commonly affects stations in the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones); this is particularly common during the fall months, when the Saturday broadcast is usually pre-empted by ABC's college football coverage and during the winter and spring, when the Sunday broadcast is delayed and occasionally pre-empted due to ABC's NBA basketball telecasts.
ABC News programs, including ABC World News Tonight, are shown for several hours a day on the 24-hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. Also, in the Middle East, it is broadcast free-to-air on MBC 4.
In the United Kingdom, the program is shown at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday–Friday on BBC News. BBC News is frequently simulcast by BBC One at this time, meaning the program was broadcast on analogue terrestrial television in many parts of the UK until the digital transition. The newscast is aired on a delay, in part because of the need to remove commercial advertisements which are replaced with those for different BBC News specialist programs; the BBC's domestic channels are commercial-free. The program was replaced on June 14, 2011 by Asia Business Report and Sport Today, but later returned on August 20, 2012. It is also on the BBC's on-demand service BBC iPlayer for 28 days after broadcast.
In Hong Kong, it was broadcast live on TVB Pearl daily at 07:30 until 08:00 HKT until May 31, 2009, when it was replaced by NBC Nightly News. In Japan, it airs on NHK BS 1 as part of the weekday morning Ohayo Sekai (Wake Up To The World) program, and in clip form in the ABC News Shower English language education program.
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- Official website
- ABC World News Tonight at the Internet Movie Database (includes production details on World News Tonight and World News)
- ABC World News Tonight at TV.com