Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nov. 25, 1963, New York Times, Millions of Viewers See Oswald Killing on 2 TV Networks, by Jack Gould,

November 25, 1963, New York Times, Millions of Viewers See Oswald Killing on 2 TV Networks, by Jack Gould,

The fatal shooting of Lee H. Oswald, who was held as the assassin of President Kennedy, was seen as it occurred yesterday by millions of television viewers. The National Broadcasting Company telecast the dramatic happening live. Less than a minute later the Columbia Broadcasting System telecast it by means of tape, made as the shooting occurred. C.B.S. headquarters recorded the pictures from Dallas as they were received here over a closed circuit. Officials, upon seeing the contents of the Dallas relay, put the tape out over the network instantly.

The incident marked the first time in 15 years of television around the globe that a real-life homicide had occurred in front of live cameras. The closest parallel occurred in October, 1960, when Inejiro Asanuma, Japanese political leader, was knifed on a public stage in Tokyo. Tape recordings of this wee played back on Japanese TV stations ten minutes later.

The Dallas shooting, easily the most extraordinary moments of TV that a set-owner ever watched, came with such breath-taking suddenness as to beggar description. It had been a quiet and subdued morning on TV, with emphasis on religious services and plans for the funeral of President Kennedy today. N.B.C. had just done a "remote" from Hyannis Port, Mass., on the condition of the late president's father, Joseph P. Kennedy. C..B.S. was giving a news report from its studio after having carried a sermon in which violence was decried.

Under stand-by arrangements for instant switching to Dallas, the two networks took their audiences to the now familiar overcrowded corriddor in the Dallas Police Department. And once again there appeared in view the figure of Oswald with a plainclothes man at each side.

On the home screen all three appeared to be looking toward the left side of the screen. Out of the lower right corner came the back of a man. A shot rang out, and Oswald could be heard gasping as he started to fall. Tom Pettit, N.B.C. correspondent, said quickly: "He's been shot! He;s been shot! Lee Oswald has been shot. There is absolute panic. Pandemonium has broken out."

Robert Huffaker, staff newsman for television station KRLD, the Dallas affiliate of the Columbia network, happened to be at the C.B.S. microphone. "He's been shot!" Mr. Huffaker exclaimed. "Oswald's been shot!"

On the faces of the police officers there was shock, and then a viewer could see the officers swarming over the back of the assailant, Jack Ruby, a night-club operator.

The television coverage showed Ruby being whisked away and Oswald being sped in an ambulance to Parkland Hospital. The TV sequence was over almost as soon as it started, and the viewer could not help but respect the composure of the commentators and the cameramen. The ability of television to cope with the Oswald murder reflected the extent of network preparations since the president's assassination. Hundreds of persons in the networks' news staffs have been on duty almost around the clock, organizing and presenting programs throughout the day and night.

All networks concurred yesterday in a decision not to resume regular commercial programming until tomorrow morning. One official estimated that the expenses for the special four-day news coverage would run from $2 million to $3 million for each network. But a larger economic consideration pertains to advertising revenue that will not be realized. If both the networks and the hundreds of individual stations are considered, it was said, the total industry loss could amount to $100 million. The three networks together realize a total of about $14 million a night from the sale of prime time. To this must be added the loss of individual station income from the sale of spot announcements.

In today's coverage of the funeral and burial services for President Kennedy, beginning at 7 A.M. and continuing until late afternoon, the networks will pool their picture resources while carrying the commentary of their own reporters. The same arrangement was followed for the inauguration of President Kennedy.

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