A 6:30 PM PT West Coast edition of the network’s evening news will air as planned, sources tell Deadline. Earlier Tuesday, an error in CBS News’ Washington D.C. bureau control room literally pulled the plug on the East Coast edition, as the network tweeted about 13 minutes after the O’Donnell-hosted show was to have begun.
.@CBSNews is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We will bring you the CBS Evening News as soon as possible. We apologize for the issue.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 19, 2020
Stressing “we’re fine,” O’Donnell took to social media about two hours later to explain, and thank viewers for their concern:
“CBS News experienced technical difficulties tonight that prevented the CBS Evening News from airing at 6:30 pm, ET on the CBS Television Network,” CBS News said in a statement released at 5 PM PM, confirming the West Coast broadcast would still go ahead. “The issue is being resolved, and the Mountain and West Coast versions of the CBS Evening News will air during the regular time slots at 5:30 PM/6:30 PM, MT/PT,” they added, with an exclusive billed interview with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg scheduled as the marquee item tonight.
“In place of the CBS Evening News on the East Coast, the network aired coverage from CBSN, CBS News’ streaming news service. Tonight’s broadcast of the CBS Evening News will also air on CBSN and will be available on CBSNews.com.”
CBS has been primarily routing the broadcast of its nightly news show via DC and a backup facility in New York City since two staffers in the network’s Manhattan-set Broadcast Center came down with coronavirus in mid-March. Even before most of the nation began stay-at-home orders to help halt the spread of the potentially fatal COVID-19, CBS staffers were instructed to work from home for their own safety.
Since then, the broadcast has hit the ground running nightly pretty seamlessly, up until today. In addition to its tweet of the occurrence, CBS is expected to issue an official statement on what went wrong shortly. To the network’s credit, those on the East Coast did get their news tonight with the feed from 24-hour digital newser CBSN substituting.
In a smalll(ish) coincidence, today was also the day that CBS unveiled its fall season schedule in a digital Upfront that replaced the usual Carnegie Hall hootenanny. To quote O’Donnell’s Instagram post: “It’s broadcasting in the era of COVID.”