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TV Notes: 03/26/03

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

By Associated Press

How much to watch?

Dramatic images of the war in Iraq have left people across the country struggling to decide when to watch TV and when to turn it off.

At the Cleveland State University student union Monday afternoon, the large-screen television set that had carried the war on Friday was tuned instead to soap operas.

Sitting on a campus park bench with a newspaper on her lap, Kathryn Quinn said the television images of war had become too much for her.

Quinn, 40, a professor at the university's college of nursing, said she wants to stay informed on what's happening in the war, but "it's disturbing to watch too much of it."

Keith Ritchie, 38, a commercial producer, having lunch outside a Subway sandwich shop in Phoenix, said: "I try not to watch too much of the war because it's the same stuff over and over again. I was glad when the regular programming got back to normal."

Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, said the 24-hour coverage of the war may have made people lose interest more quickly and could reduce public support for a long conflict.

"If you've got people after 4 1/2 days saying they've had enough of the war, think of the magnitude of that statement," Thompson said. "World War II took four years."

Richard Wald, a former news executive at both NBC and ABC and now a professor at Columbia University School of Journalism, said that for news executives, the need to inform the public has to be balanced against how much the public will actually watch.

"How much bombing should you show? How much should you be on live with? At the outset of a war it is simple because everyone wants as much news as possible. But once it settles in and becomes a daily news report, it becomes a harder question," he said.

Ray Jablonowski, 53, an engineer for the city of Pittsburgh, said he watches war coverage constantly, even taking naps with the television news in the background.

"People need to see the horrors of war," he said over lunch at a Downtown food court. "This is not just a TV show." (Paul Singer, Associated Press)

Channel surfing

"American Idol's" Ryan Seacrest is in talks to star in a syndicated talk show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. ... The WB has renewed six of its series. "Charmed," "Gilmore Girls," "Everwood," "Smallville" and "Reba" have been picked up for the 2003-04 season, while "7th Heaven" was renewed for two years. The network's decision on "Angel" isn't expected until May. ... ABC has put the low-rated "Veritas: The Quest" on hiatus. (AP)

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