CBS and NBC Expand Nightly News to 30 Minutes

A History of the 1963 Expansion

Authors: Chelsie Akers and D. Spencer Chalk


Abstract – The year 1963 was pivotal for broadcast news. Walter Cronkite forever changed how the American people receive their news when he anchored the first 30 minute nightly news. During the 60s, television news had two strong rivals: the newspaper and the radio. The target audience for nightly newscasts was to a generation of people that were used to getting news elsewhere. Since people were familiar with getting the news from radio, news stations relayed the news the same way as it was done on the radio: as talking heads. The news stations used a trusted face to read the news to people without any improvements on presentation. This all changed when CBS and NBC saw a robust and lucrative future for the nightly news. This paper will outline the steps taken by the two networks to make an extended half hour evening news a reality.

Keywords: nightly news; Walter Cronkite; political conventions; Huntly-Brinkly; Telstar

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