June 29, 2005

ABC to broadcast Live 8 concert special

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - ABC television has locked up U.S.broadcast rights for the upcoming worldwide series of Live 8concerts for African debt relief, with plans to air two hoursof highlights from the shows in prime time, the network said onTuesday.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned network licensed TV rights to theLive 8 performances from America Online, a unit of Time WarnerInc., which also owns North American and European Internetrights to the shows, an AOL spokesman said.

AOL plans to stream six of the eight concertssimultaneously on the Web, free of charge, making the event oneof the most ambitious tests of live online entertainment,organizers said.

The shows also will be archived and made available ondemand for about six weeks after the concerts in Philadelphia,London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Toronto, Tokyo and South Africa.

The concerts, organized by Irish rocker Bob Geldof, areintended to raise awareness of poverty in Africa and to pressworld leaders at the Group of Eight summit of the world'srichest nations to increase humanitarian aid and ease ThirdWorld debt.

Highlights for ABC's two-hour special, airing July 2, willinclude performances by Paul McCartney, U2 and thechart-topping British rock band Coldplay, the network said.

The Live 8 extravaganza will be aired in about 160countries in all, reaching an estimated 5.9 billion potentialtelevision viewers, organizers said.

"It's the biggest entertainment event in televisionhistory," said Kevin Wall, an executive producer of the Live 8broadcast.