CHARLOTTE, N.C. At 10:30 on Monday night, Ann Romney is scheduled to take the stage at the Republican National Convention, in Act 1 of her husband’s four-day introduction to the nation. But tens of millions of people will not be able to watch.
CBS plans instead to show a rerun of “Hawaii Five-O,” its hit police series. Viewers on NBC will see a new episode of “Grimm,” about a homicide detective with the supernatural ability to sense evil. And ABC plans to show “Castle,” a series about a best-selling mystery novelist who helps solve crimes.
The networks, which reap considerable advertising dollars even from summer reruns, have told the Romney campaign that they will broadcast an hour of convention coverage on the final three nights – but no more.
Advisers to Mitt Romney, facing a blackout of the opening night program they fastidiously scripted to soften perceptions of the candidate, are angry.
“I don’t think it’s the decision that Bill Paley would have made,” said Russ Schriefer, a senior Romney adviser, referring to the executive who ran CBS during the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
The campaign is considering whether to move Ann Romney’s speech to another night.
ABC, CBS and NBC are scaling back their televised coverage of both conventions from four years ago, when they went on the air live each night for an hour. Though there was lengthier coverage and huge ratings in 2008, the overall trend for the networks has been to cut back and leave the gavel-to-gavel coverage to cable news.
This year, the networks will broadcast three hours of live coverage for each convention, as they did in 2004. For the Republican convention, all three networks will broadcast an hour live Tuesday through Thursday.
For the Democratic convention in Charlotte the following week, ABC and CBS will broadcast an hour Tuesday through Thursday.
NBC will skip Wednesday night for an NFL game and devote two hours of coverage on Thursday, when President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are slated to speak.