- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - ABC’s news president says the sense that the public is hungry for progress on race relations and policing led the network to quickly schedule a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama in prime time on Thursday.

The discussion will air at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday on ABC and simulcast on ESPN, the Freeform entertainment network, ABC Radio and various online outlets owned by the parent Walt Disney Co. The BBC will also show it live in Britain and worldwide on the BBC World News network, ABC said.

“There’s a real thirst for understanding and a desire to hear other perspectives and make progress on these issues,” ABC News President James Goldston said.

ABC pulled the event together in three days following the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers last week and the police shootings of men and Minnesota and Louisiana that sparked Black Lives Matter protests.

Town halls have been revived this year as a hot television commodity, especially with the election campaigns and the cable news networks.

Obama, who spoke extensively on the topic at Tuesday’s memorial service for the fallen Dallas officers, is the headliner. Goldston said ABC is hoping to include family members of people involved in last week’s shootings, but did not announce any other participants. The event will be taped Thursday afternoon in Washington.

“We feel like we’re really delivering on our public service mission here,” Goldston said. The event reaches back to ABC history, when Ted Koppel hosted town halls on “Nightline” and Peter Jennings did specials answering children’s questions on major issues.

David Muir will anchor the event, joined by ESPN’s Jemele Hill.


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