- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

Millions for ‘Aid’

Television audiences for signature events have been shrinking for years, with the massive numbers of viewers drawn by the series finales of “M*A*S*H” and “Cheers” but a memory.

The producers of the Live 8 concerts contend that this week’s performances could change that by becoming the largest-ever broadcast of a live event, Associated Press reports. Should that happen, they have technology to thank.

Broadcasts on television, radio, the Internet and even mobile phones will be accessible to a potential audience of 5.5 billion people, or 85 percent of the world’s population, the producers told AP.

“This monumental live broadcast is, without doubt, the largest global live transmission in history, spanning the entire world. [It] … will be the first to truly embrace the powerful broadband Internet,” Live 8 executive producer Kevin Wall told AP.

The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens captured a global audience of 3.9 billion; 2.5 billion people watched or heard Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.

The eight July 2 concerts, scheduled for several cities, including London, Paris, Tokyo, Rome and Philadelphia, will be broadcast in more than 140 countries. Artists scheduled to perform include Elton John, Madonna, U2, Paul McCartney and Coldplay.

The shows are meant to pressure leaders gathering for the upcoming Group of Eight summit to take action to reduce poverty in Africa.

At another concert in England on Saturday, the Glastonbury Festival, an audience of 100,000 urged the G-8 nations to raise the money needed to end poverty.

Led by Bob Geldof, an organizer of Live 8 and its predecessor, the Live Aid concerts 20 years ago, the crowd joined hands and yelled the slogan “Make poverty history.”

Sorry, wrong number

A phone snafu during last week’s “Dancing With the Stars” telecast tripped up the surprise summer hit, Associated Press reports.

Voters for the ABC reality show called a central Michigan answering service instead of the show’s phone banks. Those affected were fans dialing to support the dance team led by actor John O’Hurley, known for his role as J. Peterman on the sitcom “Seinfeld.”

The number to call for Mr. O’Hurley’s team was an 866 number, according to the ABC Web site, while the number many people dialed was an 888 number.

Kathy Klein, owner of Mount Pleasant Answering Service, said she was getting 200 to 300 mistaken calls on Wednesdays, when the show airs.

“You can tell when the show ends at every time zone because the phones ring off the hook at the top of every hour,” she told AP.

Calls cost Miss Klein’s answering service 6 cents per minute, plus the cost of an extra employee she has been forced to hire to weed them out. She said she wants ABC to reimburse her for the calls.

The network learned of the mix-up late last week and is investigating, Lauren Tobin, a spokeswoman for ABC, told AP.

“It’s clearly a case of people misreading the number on the screen,” Miss Tobin said.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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