Shopping Channels Stay on Air Sept. 11

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Home shopping channels in the United States, many of which went dark last Sept. 11, were on the air during the anniversary of the attack.

ShopNBC dedicated all profits from sales during the day to three charities, the New York City Law Enforcement Foundation, Ground Hero Kids and the VFW 9-11 Memorial. From 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., ShopNBC broadcast a live feed from cable news channel MSNBC, followed by a message from its company chairman.

ShopNBC also broadcast President Bush's speech at 4 p.m. and planned to run the MSNBC feed again for an hour at 9 p.m. During the rest of the day, the network marketed merchandise with patriotic themes, including the Time Inc.-published book "American Spirit," accompanied by a copy of HBO's Sept. 11 special aired earlier this year entitled "In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01" in video or DVD format, and jewelry designed by a New York artist and inspired by Sept. 11.

Other products included the Palermo Americana Collection and The John Lennon Collection, a jewelry set based on drawings the Beatles artist created to help his son Sean learn to read.

Following Sept. 11, 2001, ShopNBC raised $200,000 in corporate donations for Sept. 11 charities. The company said it wanted to take a different tack this year by involving viewers in its fundraising.

Other networks paused momentarily to remember the Sept. 11 events, then carried on with business as usual. Shopping channel QVC observed two minutes of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center, followed by a special gathering of QVC employees immediately afterward.

"After this time, we will resume our regular programming as we believe many Americans will look for a reprieve from the news coverage that will continue to dominate the networks," a QVC spokeswoman said in a statement.

The Home Shopping Network held a one-minute silent observance preceded by words from HSN president/CEO Mark Bozek. After that, the network proceeded with its usual programming, with the small change being that a U.S. flag appeared behind its logo in the bottom-right corner of the screen rather than the usual blue background.

HSN's decision to continue with its regular programming was based partly on President Bush's exhortation that normal life and business must go on despite the attacks, HSN spokesman Brad Bohnert said.

"Based upon feedback from users, we felt it was appropriate to get on with business as usual," Bohnert said.

After the attacks last year, QVC was off the air for 22 hours, the QVC spokeswoman said. HSN said it went off the air at 11 a.m. that day and did not return until 6 a.m. the following day. Immediately after the attacks, ShopNBC ceased its regular programming and ran MSNBC coverage for 24 hours.

Home shopping networks had to tread a fine line Sept. 11 between trivializing the anniversary of a tragic day and trying to make a positive contribution, said Anthony Giombetti, ShopNBC spokesman. For many, the idea of shopping on television on Sept. 11 "settles funny," he said, even though catalogers and brick-and-mortar retailers all will be doing business that day.

"It's a tough day for retailers," Giombetti said. "We are a retailer defined by the medium through which we sell."

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