Eyewitness News is a style of news broadcasting used by local television stations in different markets across the United States. It refers to a particular style of television newscast with an emphasis on visual elements and action video. It replaced the traditional "man-on-camera" newscast.
Pioneered by Westinghouse
The earliest known use of the Eyewitness News name in American television was in April 1959 when KYW-TV in Cleveland, owned at the time by Westinghouse Broadcasting, launched the nation's first 90-minute local newscast (under the title Eyewitness), combined with the then 15-minute national newscast. The name was then adopted for use by Westinghouse's other television stations—KPIX in San Francisco, WJZ-TV in Baltimore, WBZ-TV in Boston and KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh—for its local newscasts.
After KYW-TV (the call letters) moved to Philadelphia in 1965 (the result of a government-ordered reversal of a 1956 Westinghouse/NBC station swap) its then-news director, Al Primo, created the Eyewitness News format. In this format, which was meant to be faster in pace than the standard format (in which an anchor simply read headlines), a reporter in the field would be the "eyewitness" to a news event to the anchor in the studio and the viewer at home. The anchors became personalities instead of presenters with the introduction of banter, or "happy talk" as it was named by Al Primo. Anchors would give their own personal comments in between stories to let viewers know their personalities.
Primo used the cue 007 from the 1963 film From Russia with Love as the musical theme. The format quickly became a hit in Philadelphia and allowed KYW-TV to surge past longtime leader WCAU-TV for first place, a position it kept on and off until the late 1970s. KYW-TV's success spawned rival station WFIL-TV to develop the Action News format to compete with it. (After NBC was ordered back to Cleveland in 1965, the Eyewitness News name left that city until WEWS-TV adopted it for its newscasts in the 1970s.)
KYW-TV used the name and format until 1991 and readopted it in 1998. All five major stations owned by Westinghouse prior to its 1996 acquisition of CBS have used Eyewitness News as their newscast titles at some point in time; KYW-TV and WJZ-TV continue to do so. It was a common theme for their local newscast since the CBS logo is shaped like an eye, although until 1995 only KDKA-TV and KPIX were affiliated with CBS.
Expansion to ABC
In 1968, Primo moved to WABC-TV in New York City and took the Eyewitness News concept there with him, choosing music from the 1967 Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke — the "Tar Sequence" cue (composed by Lalo Schifrin) — as the theme. However, he added a new twist at WABC-TV—light, informal-sounding conversation among the anchors between the news stories and segments, which came to be known as "happy talk". Among the newscasters in the first wave of happy talk on WABC-TV was young reporter Geraldo Rivera, a comical and entertaining weatherman in Tex Antoine, and Bill Beutel and Roger Grimsby as anchormen of contrasting yet complementing styles. WABC-TV has kept the name and format since then, and has been the highest-rated station in New York for much of that time.
The format, as tweaked by WABC-TV, was copied by many other stations in the United States, with four other stations owned and operated by ABC — KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WLS-TV in Chicago, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and KGO-TV in San Francisco —- using both the format and the Cool Hand Luke theme. (In the case of KGO, since KPIX was already using the Eyewitness News name, KGO named its newscast Channel 7 NewsScene in 1969 and by 1983 simply Channel 7 News, while WXYZ used the Action News name since rival WJBK-TV called its newscasts Eyewitness News; KABC and WLS were free to use the Eyewitness News name as did WABC-TV). Ironically, WPVI, which developed the Action News format, is also now an ABC owned-and-operated station.
In addition, U.S. Spanish-language stations also use their own version of Eyewitness News, called Noticias de Primera Plana (Headline News, a concept translation in Spanish of Eyewitness News) on its owned-and-operated stations.
A separate, but mostly unrelated, Eyewitness News format was developed by Irv Weinstein in Buffalo, New York for WKBW-TV. This format was mostly based not on the original Eyewitness News (though it used the same logo) but rather on the Action News format of its sister stations in the Capital Cities Communications stable. While based on Action News's brief and numerous reports, Weinstein built his Eyewitness News newscast around attention-grabbing catchphrases and alliterative headlines, along with occasional wisecracking or sarcastic one-liners about the day's news stories.
This version of Eyewitness News was used on WKBW as well as other Capital Cities stations where the Action News name was in use by another station, such as WTVD in Durham, North Carolina. It was also used on a few stations not owned by Capital Cities, including WOKR in Rochester, New York.
Various editions of Eyewitness News follows the time of when the news airs. Below is a list of the editions of the newscasts in some cities:
- Detroit (WXYZ): This Morning (4:30-7:00 a.m.), Noon, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Los Angeles (KABC): Morning (4:30-7:00 a.m.), 11:00 a.m., 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- New York City (WABC): This Morning (4:30-7:00 a.m.), Noon, First at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
Outside the United States
In Mexico and other Hispanic American countries during the 1970s and 1980s, some local newscasts also used the Eyewitness News format, under the names Noticias de Primera Plana (Headline News) and Noticias de Acción (Action News).
In Japan, TV Tokyo branded its newscasts as Eyewitness News, but abbreviated as EyeNews.
In Australia, BTQ-7 Brisbane adopted the Eyewitness News branding in the early 1970s. The branding was also employed by NWS-9 Adelaide for its evening newscast. TEN-10 Sydney and ATV-0 Melbourne, the principal stations in the Ten Network, adopted the Eyewitness News branding in the mid-1970s and it was later adopted by other stations in the Network Ten group (SAS-10 (later SAS-7) in 1976 and TVQ-0 (later TVQ-10) in 1978) as BTQ-7 and NWS-9 later relinquished the brand. Regional affiliates for Network Ten including CTC-7 in Canberra (Ten Capital Eyewitness News, formerly Capital 7 Eyewitness News, Capital Television Eyewitness News and Ten National News), Southern Cross Network in Victoria (Southern Cross/TV8 Eyewitness News formerly TV8 Newshour), and QTV in Townsville (QTV Eyewitness News and later Ten North Queensland Eyewitness News), also used the Eyewitness News name. The Australian version of Eyewitness News more closely resembled Weinstein's version than the original format, but it became one of the ratings winners in the 1980s due to its one-hour duration unlike other newscasts. Network Ten dropped the use of the Eyewitness News name in September 1988 (but retained it in Brisbane until October 31, 1988 on TVQ-10) but later re-instated it in July 1989 for six months, and then again in January 1991 for four more years, this time using its present logo. They reinstated the "Eyewitness News" branding once again on the 16th September 2013.
Stations that use or have used the Eyewitness News format or name
- 1Indicates station was originally owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting and now is owned-and-operated by CBS
- 2Indicates station is owned-and-operated by ABC
Eyewitness News is also the name of a syndicated news music package, composed by Frank Gari of Gari Communications.
Since 1968, ABC's large market owned-and-operated stations had used the "Cool Hand Luke" theme on their newscasts. In 1983, they started using News Series 2000, an updated version of the original Schifrin theme, composed by Frank Gari, that had been originally commissioned by WLS-TV in Chicago.
However, in the early 1990s, Schifrin raised his royalties for using Cool Hand Luke and its variations to a level that effectively priced the theme out of the local news market. As a result, in 1994, Gari was commissioned by WABC-TV in New York to compose a new music package called Eyewitness News. This new package, based slightly on Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman, has been updated several times. WABC-TV currently uses the Series 4 version, which was specifically updated for the station in 1999.
Besides being used in America, the Eyewitness News music package has also been picked up for use overseas. Hong Kong Cable News has been using it for its morning newscast, and POP TV in Slovenia has been using it for its main newscasts. It is also used by Nine Network and its affiliates for their newscasts in Australia. Its rival network, Network Ten, used Move Closer to Your World as theme music for their Eyewitness News newscasts on all of its stations except for its Brisbane station, TVQ-0, from 1976 to 1988 (Network Ten did not reach Perth until May 26, 1988), a record twelve years before the theme music was changed to reflect the full reach of the network across Australia's five major cities. By then, Frank Gari's Turn To News, the then Ten news theme in both Brisbane (in 1986) and later in Adelaide (in early 1987), was adopted by Ten's stations in Melbourne, Sydney, and later in Perth that year.
Another news theme, Team to Watch, used by KNXT-TV (presently KCBS-TV) in the 1980s, was the Ten News update theme in almost all its stations, and in the mid-1980s became the Eyewitness News theme on TEN-10 Sydney. Today's Ten Eyewitness News uses the current theme music first used in 1995, when it was renamed Ten News.
A station using the Eyewitness News music package might not necessarily use the Eyewitness News title for its newscasts, and vice versa. For example, WXYZ-TV in Detroit uses the music package, but uses the Action News format and branding, and in 2006 KGO-TV started using the Eyewitness News package but brands its newscasts as 'ABC 7 News HD'.
In 2005, Gari Communications renamed the Eyewitness News-New Generation news package to the ABC O&O News Collection, as the packages are now only commissable by ABC owned-and-operated stations and affiliates.[dubious ] Despite this, many still refer to the package as Eyewitness News. In Buffalo, New York, Move Closer to Your World is known as the Eyewitness News theme. It was used on WKBW-TV from 1972 to 2003, and from 2008 onward.
Stations that use or have used Eyewitness News music package
|DMA#||DMA Name||Station||Affiliation||Years Used||Other Notes|
|1.||New York City, New York||WABC-TV, formerly WJZ||ABC||1994–present||First station to commission Series 1 in 1994 & Series 4 in 1999, Commissioned New Generation 3 (Exclusively for WABC) in 2010.|
|2.||Los Angeles, California||KABC-TV, formerly KECA||ABC||1995–present||First station to commission Series 1 in 1995 & New Generation Series 1 in 2006 after starting high definition broadcasts. Also commissioned New Generation 1 in 2007 and New Generation 2 in 2008.|
|3.||Chicago, Illinois||WLS-TV, formerly WBKB||ABC||2013–present||Commissioned New Generation 3 in 2013; used only for morning newscasts. Gari's Stimulus (News Series 2000 Plus) New Generation 2, originally commissioned for WLS, is used for all other newscasts.|
|5.||San Francisco, California||KGO-TV||ABC||2006–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1|
|KOFY-TV, formerly KBWB||ABC (secondary), formerly WB||2007–present||9pm newscasts produced by KGO|
|8.||Washington, DC||WJLA-TV, formerly WMAL||ABC, formerly CBS||2006–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1 in 2006 & started using Series 1 for breaking news after starting HD newscasts in December 2008|
|10.||Houston, Texas||KTRK-TV, formerly KXYZ||ABC||1995–present||Commissioned Series 1 & 2 in 1995, Series 5 & New Generation Series 1 in 2006|
|11.||Detroit, Michigan||WKBD-TV||The CW, formerly UPN||2002–2004||Aired a 10pm newscast produced by WXYZ|
|WXYZ-TV||ABC||2001–2009||Commissioned New Generation Series 2 only for its opens and bumpers, but uses Series 4 for closes. Also used New Generation 1 for promos of its 5pm & 11pm newscasts. Also commissioned Series 1 for opens and Series 3 for bumpers in 2001|
|12.||Saint Petersburg, Florida & Tampa, Florida||WFTS-TV||ABC||2007–2009||Commissioned Series 1 for IDs, Series 4 for weather stingers, & New Generation Series 1 & 2|
|13.||Phoenix, Arizona||KNXV-TV||ABC, formerly Independent, then FOX||2007–2009||Commissioned Series 1 & New Generation Series 1 after starting high definition broadcasts|
|17.||Cleveland, Ohio||WEWS-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||2007–2009||Commissioned New Generation Series 1 after starting high definition broadcasts, used New Generation Series 1 for opens & talent rejoins|
|18.||Denver, Colorado||KMGH-TV, formerly KLZ-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||1995–1997 & 2006–present||Commissioned Series 2 in 1995 after the 3-way affiliation change with KCNC & KUSA, & New Generation Series 1 in 2006|
|19.||Orlando, Florida||WFTV, formerly WLOF||ABC||1995–1997 & 2006–2009||Commissioned Series 2 in 1995 & New Generation Series 1 in 2006, used Series 3 for weather alerts|
|WRDQ||ABC (secondary)||2007–present||Newscasts produced by WFTV|
|21.||St. Louis, Missouri||KTVI, formerly WTVI||Fox, formerly ABC||1995–1998||Commissioned Series 2 after the affiliation switch with KDNL.|
|25.||Indianapolis, Indiana||WRTV Channel 6.1||ABC||2004–present||Commissioned Series 3 in 2004, New Generation Series 1 in 2006, & first station to commission New Generation Series 3 in 2008 after starting high definition newscasts|
|6 News 24/7, formerly NewsChannel 64 – WRTV-DT 6.2||No affiliation, though can be ABC Secondary||2004–Present||24 hour cable news channel produced by WRTV|
|28.||San Diego, California||KGTV, formerly KOGO||ABC, formerly NBC||2006–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1 in 2006 & New Generation Series 2 in 2008|
|29.||Raleigh, North Carolina & Durham, North Carolina||WTVD-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||1995–present||Commissioned Series 2 in 1995, Series 1 in 2000, Series 3 in 2005, Series 4 in 2006 & New Generation Series 1 in 2007|
|WLFL-TV||The CW, formerly The WB||2006–present||10pm newscasts produced by WTVD|
|43.||Las Vegas, Nevada||KTNV-TV, formerly KSHO||ABC||2003–present||Commissioned Series 4 in 2003, New Generation Series 1 in 2006, and New Generation Series 2 in 2008 after starting high definition broadcasts|
|51.||New Bedford, Massachusetts & Providence, Rhode Island||WNAC-TV, formerly WSTG||Fox, formerly ABC||2002–2004||Newscast produced by sister station WPRI|
|WPRI-TV, formerly WPRO||CBS, formerly ABC||2002–2004||Commissioned Series 2 & 3|
|58.||Dayton, Ohio||WDTN-TV, formerly WLWD||NBC, formerly ABC||2002–2004||WDTN commissioned Series 1 before the affiliation switch with WKEF & the ownership change from Hearst-Argyle to LIN TV.|
|62.||Tulsa, Oklahoma||KTUL, formerly KTVX||ABC||2006–present||Commissioned Series 4 & New Generation Series 1|
|66.||Flint, Michigan||WJRT-TV||ABC||1997–present||Commissioned Series 2 in 1997 & New Generation Series 1 in 2006|
|69.||Green Bay, Wisconsin||WBAY-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||2006–present||Commissioned Series 2 for closes & New Generation Series 1 for opens after a licensing dispute with Stephen Arnold Music, the producer of their previous theme, "Counterpoint".|
|70.||Toledo, Ohio||WTVG-TV, formerly WSPD||ABC||1997–present||Commissioned Series 2 in 1997, Series 3 in 1999, Series 4 in 2005, & New Generation Series 1 in 2006|
|71.||Tucson, Arizona||KVOA-TV||NBC||1999–2007||Commissioned Series 2 & 3 in 1999|
|73.||Des Moines, Iowa||WOI-TV||ABC||2006–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1|
|85.||Madison, Wisconsin||WMTV-TV||NBC, formerly ABC||1999–present||Commissioned Series 2, 3 & New Generation Series 1; the only NBC station that currently uses this package|
|89.||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||KGAN-TV, formerly WMT||CBS||1996–2004||Commissioned Series 2 & 3|
|90.||Burlington, Vermont||WVNY-TV||ABC||1999–2003||Commissioned Series 2 & 3|
|96.||Savannah, Georgia||WJCL-TV||ABC, formerly NBC||2005–present||Commissioned Series 2 for morning newscasts & Series 3 for other newscasts|
|100.||Charleston, South Carolina||WCIV||ABC, formerly NBC||2007–present||Commissioned Series 3 & New Generation Series 1|
|101.||Evansville, Indiana||WTVW-TV||Fox, formerly ABC||2004 & 2005||Commissioned Series 2 & 3|
|104.||Lincoln, Nebraska||KLKN, formerly KCAN||ABC||2007–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1 in 2007 & New Generation Series 2 in 2008|
|111.||Tyler-Longview, Texas||KLTV||ABC||2007–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1|
|125.||Salinas, California||KION-TV, formerly KMST||CBS, formerly UPN||1997–2006||Commissioned Series 2 & 4|
|126.||Bakersfield, California||KERO-TV||ABC, formerly NBC, then CBS||2007–present||Commissioned Series 2 & New Generation Series 1|
|128.||Columbus, Georgia||WTVM-TV||ABC||2006–present||Series Type Unknown|
|143.||Sioux City, Iowa||KCAU-TV, formerly KVTV||ABC, formerly NBC||2006–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1 in 2006 & New Generation Series 1 in 2007|
|147||Lubbock, TX||KLBK||CBS||2007–present||Commissioned Series 3. KLBK is owned and operated by Nexstar Broadcasting Group|
|154.||Anchorage, Alaska||KYUR, formerly KIMO||ABC||1996–2007||Commissioned Series 2, flagship station of "Alaska's Superstation" network|
|176.||Lake Charles, Louisiana||KPLC||NBC||2013-present|
|180.||Jonesboro, Arkansas||KAIT-TV||ABC||2007–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1|
|182.||Charlottesville, Virginia||WVAW-LD||ABC||2006–present||Commissioned New Generation Series 1 in 2006 & New Generation Series 2 in 2008|
|188.||Lafayette, Indiana||WLFI-TV||CBS||1996–2000||Commissioned Series 2|
- Michael D. Murray. Encyclopedia of television news By. p. 73. "While a large number of local television stations used the name "Eyewitness News" for only a relatively short period, ... Eyewitness News had five key provisions: emphasis on visual elements and "action" video, sometimes in the form of ..."
- WAGA Eyewitness News at 6:00pm Open
- KTRK Channel 13 Eyewitness News Tonight Intro 10/17/90
- ABC 7 Eyewitness News at 11 Open