Eyewitness News

Eyewitness News

"Eyewitness News" is a name used by local television newscasts, widely used in different markets across the United States. It is also the name of a very popular music package offered by Gari Communications.



The earliest known use of the "Eyewitness News" name in American television was in April 1959 when KYW-TV (now WKYC-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. ( [http://clevelandclassicmedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/nbc-returns-to-cleveland-james-flanagan.html] ) 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 moved to Philadelphia in 1965 (the result of a government-ordered reversal of the 1956 Westinghouse/NBC station swap) its then-news director, Al Primo, created the "Eyewitness News" format. The reporter would be the "eyewitness" to the anchor in the studio and the viewer at home.He used the cue "007" from the 1963 film "From Russia with Love" as the 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 (now WPVI-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 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, KPIX, and WJZ-TV continue to do so.


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 film "Cool Hand Luke"—the "Tar Sequence" cue (composed by Lalo Schifrin)—as the theme. However, he added a new twist at WABC-TV—chatter among the anchors, which came to be known as "happy talk". 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 ABCKABC-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 the late 1980s 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). 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 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" but on the Action News format of its sister stations in the Capital Cities Communications stable. This version of "Eyewitness News" was used on WKBW as well as other CapCities stations where the "Action News" name was in use by another station, such as WTVD in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Outside of the United States

In Mexico during the 1970s and 1980s, Televisa's local newscasts also used the "Eyewitness News" format, also called "Noticias de Primera Plana". The title was used in Canada, on CTV affiliate CFRN-TV in Edmonton. In Japan, TV Tokyo branded its newscasts as "Eyewitness News", but abbreviated as "EyeNews".

In Australia, Network Ten branded its newscasts "Eyewitness News" or "Ten Eyewitness News" on all five of its capital city stations, including Sydney's TEN-10 and Melbourne's ATV-10, from the late 1970s until 1995 (excepting a couple of name changes). Regional affiliates, including CTC-7 in Canberra ("Ten Capital Eyewitness News") and TNQ-7 in Townsville, also used the "Eyewitness News" name. Brisbane's BTQ-7 was the first Australian station which branded its main newscast as "Eyewitness News".

tations that use or have used the "Eyewitness News" format or name

Music package

"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 1993, 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, 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", 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.

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'.

ee also

*Action News

External links

* [http://members.tripod.com/~ekimmell2/newscasts.html TV Newscast Titles] - listings of other stations that have used the Eyewitness News name
* [http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/2020/teams_kyw.html CBS3 Eyewitness News Team] - unofficial site documenting the development of Eyewitness News at KYW-TV
* [http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/search.php?search=3,1,46 SouthernMedia's NMSA] - listing of American stations that have used Eyewitness News: the news music package

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