July 14, 2006

CBS News to Sell Vintage Clips on the Web

NEW YORK -- CBS News for the first time is opening its decades of archives to the public through a deal with online retailers CustomFlix and Amazon.com.

The deal initially will offer access to dozens of full-length reports and segments from the "CBS Evening News" and "60 Minutes" that have aired since 2000. But in the future, CBS News will offer footage stretching back to the 1950s.

"Up until now it's been closed except to researchers," CBS News senior VP Linda Mason said. "This opens it up to the public. It's a sampling now, but the variety will grow over time."

CBS partnered with CustomFlix and Amazon.com for the service, which will allow customers to put up to 10 segments or 90 minutes of video on a custom-made DVD for $24.95. The DVD is produced within two or three days and shipped with a custom-made case that identifies the segments on it, CustomFlix co-founder Dana LoPiccolo-Giles said.

Think of it as a mixed tape for CBS News video.

Not everything will be available, either now or in the future. Mason said some "60 Minutes" segments will not be available because of copyright restrictions. A Web site search will show a catalog of video from the "CBS Evening News," "60 Minutes," "CBS News Sunday Morning" and longform documentaries.

"With the 'Evening News,' we're starting small. At some point, though you could have the whole range," Mason said. That means that the 15-minute broadcasts of former "CBS Evening News" anchor Douglas Edwards from the 1950s and early 1960s, the 30-minute broadcasts of Walter Cronkite from 1962-81, and Dan Rather's broadcasts could be available full-length in the not-too-distant future.

Also possible, though by no means certain, is extended coverage of the network's breaking-news coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, or Apollo 11's landing on the moon July 20, 1969, or September 11's wall-to-wall coverage. Mason and LoPiccolo-Giles said it is possible but that is further down the line, if at all.

CBS News is hoping that it can profit from the thousands of hours of content that has, in the past, been used once and then filed away.

"We're showing content providers how they can monetize shortform content," LoPiccolo said. "Previously it's something that has been very difficult to do."

What won't be available will be the outtakes, the thousands of hours of film and video that was shot by CBS News crews over the years but never made it to air.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter