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Webcast still a go for ABC News

Rumors of the demise of ABC News' pioneering Web newscast have been greatly exaggerated.
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

Rumors of the demise of ABC News' pioneering Web newscast have been greatly exaggerated.

ABC News confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the 2-year-old Webcast is alive and well amid an overall revamp that includes the addition of a blog.

The 15-minute Webcast, with "World News" anchor Charles Gibson, is available live on ABCNews.com and via an iTunes podcast soon after it's produced at 3 p.m. EDT weekdays. It differs from its rivals in that it's produced specifically for the Web, three hours or so before the "World News" telecast.

It's regularly one of the top video newscasts on iTunes, with about 600,000 daily downloads. But it has been difficult to determine how many people who download it actually watch, which has provided an advertising challenge. That led to reports this year that the news division would dump the webcast, something ABC News execs say was never even considered.

The network is pressing ahead, believing that it's the right thing to do and finding a lot of value with the technology, which enables webcast viewers to watch the show front to back as well as to jump to the stories they're most interested in.

"It's really geared toward the digital audience that wants to be the ultimate decider of what order they watch it," "World News" executive producer Jon Banner said.

"World News" is unveiling a redesigned Web site that includes a "World Newser" blog, frequent contributions from senior staff and a daily contribution by Gibson.

"What it really is, is a one-stop shop for news fanatics about what's happening right now in the country and the world," Banner said. "It's our view of things."

Beginning today, the blog will include Gibson's musings from the Democratic National Convention. The anchorman said that he initially had some misgivings.

"I've been reluctant about a blog, not for any other reason that I worry that they become a little self-serving and somewhat narcissistic," he said. "I've resisted it in the past. I'm not sure I won't fall into the same trap."

Gibson said he's going to be guided by the truth and promises to be "pretty frank." He isn't going to shy away from airing some of the broadcast's "dirty laundry," if that's what strikes him to write about.

"If I think we screwed up (on the broadcast), I'm going to say that," Gibson said. "If we left out something out of a piece that we shouldn't have, I'm going to say that too."