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NBC Nixes Live Coverage of Planned Gingrich Speech

March 31, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ NBC said Thursday it will not provide live coverage of a prime-time speech planned by House Speaker Newt Gingrich next week.

``If it turns out to be newsworthy we will deal with it in ``Dateline NBC,‴′ which airs shortly after Gingrich’s speech is expected to conclude, said Heidi Pokorny, a network spokeswoman.

In addition, Pokorny noted that the ``Today″ show and ``NBC Nightly News″ would originate from Washington part of next week to coincide with the anticipated completion of the GOP ``Contract With America.″

Gingrich will be interviewed on ``Today″ and possibly the evening news show as well, she said.

CNN earlier this week said it would cover Gingrich’s proposed prime-time speech, which is designed to mark the completion of the ``Contract With America″ and look ahead to GOP efforts to balance the budget.

ABC and CBS have yet to announce plans.

A group that lobbies for the network affiliates of ABC, CBS and NBC suggested those stations would be interested in carrying the speech even if the networks don’t.

In a letter to Gingrich, Benjamin W. Tucker Jr., chairman of the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, said, ``we are confident that the affiliates would exercise their right to pre-empt network programming to broadcast your address directly to the American public.″

Kurt Wimmer, an alliance attorney, said pre-empting network programming to carry a political speech would be an unusual move and ``obviously we have not called 650 stations to make sure they would carry it.″

But, he said, the group wants to stress the difference between the networks and the local stations ``who want to make local decisions.″

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