ABC's exit strategy

Net leaves day-to-day Iraq reporting to BBC

ABC News and the BBC are expanding their news partnership in Iraq, with ABC reducing its full-time presence there while relying on the BBC for day-to-day reports from inside the country.

ABC will continue to have a Baghdad bureau, though there will be fewer employees than have been there since the war began in 2003 and no full-time correspondent. ABC News will continue to have correspondents covering the war in Iraq for larger stories as the situation warrants, including the upcoming elections.

"We will have a presence but significantly less than there was before," an ABC News executive said. "This is more of a reallocation of resources, so we're not spending money for a substantial presence on the ground waiting for something to happen."

ABC News president David Westin announced the change Wednesday in an e-mail to employees. He wrote that Iraq will continue to be an important story for ABC News and that "we will devote all the resources necessary to do the story justice." ABC hopes the expanded partnership will free ABC News' resources from daily stories.

The deal includes financial support for the BBC's coverage by ABC, but it wasn't clear how much. The BBC also announced the change to its employees Wednesday.

Baghdad bureaus have cost ABC and the other networks millions of dollars each year since the war began. That includes not only the cost of keeping at least one correspondent and producing team there but also support staff and security personnel.

CBS and NBC also do not have full-time correspondents in Iraq. (partialdiff)
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