Crossfire maintains ratings

Although CNN’s “Crossfire” moved to a new time slot and shortened to a half an hour in April, officials involved with the show’s production said the changes have not negatively affected the show.

The political debate show – filmed five days a week in the Media and Public Affairs building’s Jack Morton Auditorium – moved to 4:30 p.m. from its original 7 to 8 p.m. time when coverage of the war in Iraq began.

Paula Zhan’s show “Live From the Headlines” took “Crossfire’s” timeslot.

“Compared to the ratings from when (Crossfire) was airing at 7 p.m. last year, the time change has had little impact on the ratings,” said Sam Feist, Crossfire’s senior executive producer.

Although the war ended, Feist said the show will continue to air at its new time slot following “Inside Politics,” which provides a half hour of political news coverage directly before “Crossfire.”

“The two programs are packaged together, which is great because ‘Inside Politics’ sets up the news debates on ‘Crossfire,'” he said.

Coordinating producer Heather Clapp said there have been no real complaints about the show’s time switch, but there has been a lot of feedback about general interest in the show.

Feist also noted that shortening the show has not affected the topics covered.

“The new time slot did create a new challenge, but we are very pleased with the way things are going,” said Mike Freedman, vice president of communications at GW.

The switch in time has also not affected audience turnout, Freedman said. He noted that the same audience patterns appeared this year when compared to last year, with the lowest turnout during the end of the semester and the highest returning once tourist season began.

The show’s average attendance is about 170 people, Clapp said. The smallest audiences consist of about 75 people, and the show can accommodate up to 240 people.

Colonial Inauguration sessions also draw large crowds to the show during the summer, Clapp said. GW reserved the Jack Morton Auditorium for seven nights throughout the summer for students and their families visiting during CI sessions. Other guests who try to reserve tickets for those nights will be accommodated on another evening.

“We do it because we have so many people coming into town for CI, and it’s nice to introduce them to the show and what’s on campus,” Clapp said. “Last year it was just wildly successful. There is so much energy and enthusiasm, it works well for us.”

Feist said those planning to attend the show during the summer can expect to see debates on the presidential primary elections, and that candidates will appear as guests throughout the summer.

“Crossfire” moved to GW in April 2002 and although Clapp declined to say how long the show will remain at GW, she said both sides “really happy.”

To reserve free tickets, e-mail cnn@gwu.edu.

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