The horror! The horror!

ABC Shortening Shows to Make Room for News
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The ABC network is shortening each hour of its prime-time shows by 2 1/2 minutes, starting Tuesday, to make room for war updates, lessening the need for costly program interruptions in the event of breaking news, the network said.
In addition, ABC has canceled its combat reality show “Profiles from the Front Line,” the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced series documenting the exploits of American forces last year in Afghanistan, saying some viewers might confuse that show with current footage of the war in Iraq.
Those moves and other programming changes were revealed as ABC and other broadcasters scrambled to find the right mix of news and entertainment, adjusting to the unpredictable demands of war coverage.
Among the first shows to be trimmed by ABC for the sake of news are the John Ritter comedy “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” the sitcom “According to Jim,” starring Jim Belushi, and the hourlong season finale of Bonnie Hunt’s show “Life with Bonnie.”
A spokeswoman for the Walt Disney Co.-owned network said producers of ABC’s prime-time entertainment shows had been asked to shave a minute and a quarter from each half hour, or 2 1/2 minutes per hour, from all first-run episodes and reruns slated to air for at least the next two weeks.
“By asking our producers to deliver shorter episodes, we’ve addressed the need for news updates while also protecting the integrity of our prime-time content,” ABC spokesman Kevin Brockman told Reuters.
Paring down episodes lessens the chance of having to break into programming with unscheduled preemptions that would require the network to give up commercial or promotional time to advertisers. But network officials said the planned war updates did not preclude ABC News from interrupting programming if developments warranted.
In other schedule changes linked in part to the demands of war coverage, ABC said it has placed two new series on hiatus — the George Hamilton-hosted reality show “The Family” and the father-and-son archeological adventure “Veritas: The Quest.”
Both shows have struggled in the ratings, and ABC said the spate of recent news preemptions and scheduling changes had made it too difficult to promote and build audiences for them.
“The Family,” in which a group of 10 relatives living together in a Florida mansion compete with each other for prize money, will be relaunched this summer, ABC said. Remaining episodes of “Veritas” are expected to air later in the year.
Among ABC’s broadcast rivals, NBC said it was cutting promotional time, not program time, to accommodate news updates. CBS and Fox said they had no plans to abbreviate their entertainment offerings in advance, though CBS was making other alterations in its prime-time schedule.
CBS added a special edition of its news magazine “48 Hours” to its Tuesday lineup in place of the courtroom drama “Judging Amy” and planned to air an extra hour of prime-time news this coming Saturday in place of its espionage drama “The Agency.”
NBC is owned by General Electric Co., CBS is a unit of Viacom Inc., and Fox is a unit of News Corp. Ltd.