Koppel Exits: Bettag Says Advertising Pressures Create “Chicken-&-Egg Situation”

By Brian 

This week’s Broadcasting & Cable features “exit interviews” with executive producer Tom Bettag and anchor Ted Koppel. Bettag explains how TV news has changed during his Nightline tenure:

  The other huge rift is the advertisers’ demand for the 18-49 demographic. All programming is trying to aim at only one segment of the population.

That is a real distorting factor. People can’t figure out why 24-hour cable news is about blondes reporting on missing blondes. It’s because they’re looking for that young-female demographic. That didn’t exist 14 years ago.

Fourteen years ago, you were programming to the whole nation. We still do, but there’s some real pressure to go that way. The advertisers have to decide how to run their business, but it seems to me it’s pretty dumb.

You get yourself caught in situations where, say, come elections, if you don’t spend much time covering the election because people under 50 don’t vote, you create a chicken-and-egg situation. If you’re not covering the election, not creating any buzz, for sure, the people under 50 are not going to vote. That’s not good for a democracy.

Here are the full interviews…