PBS to party with pols every night

Sets three hours of coverage nightly during conventions

NEW YORK -- The broadcast networks aren't saying how much coverage they plan for the party nominating conventions, but PBS plans to take the full course in primetime.

The public broadcaster said Monday that it will have three hours of primetime convention coverage each night they are convened. It will be anchored by Jim Lehrer of PBS' signature news show, "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," along with other members of the team. All of it will be in HD.

"NewsHour's" Judy Woodruff said that the conventions are an integral part of election coverage, especially in this historic election year.

"I don't think it's asking too much to spend a few hours a night for four nights in a row for each political party," Woodruff said.

PBS' announcement is a marked contrast to what the other broadcast networks are leaning toward, which is an hour or so per night. The Democratic National Convention is set for Aug. 25-27 in Denver, and the Republicans take their turn Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul, Minn. PBS will be on the air from 8-11 p.m. EDT each night.

Even the cable networks, which will be live throughout, won't be "gavel to gavel." There will be breaks for advertisements and editorial judgments on the sometimes mundane world of political conventions. PBS won't cover it all, either.

"We will use our judgment on what we'll take, what speeches we will take and which we won't," Woodruff said. She said that PBS, for instance, might not take all of the entertainment that will be scheduled.