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Hurricane Sandy: Why Other Networks Passed on NBC’s Telethon (Exclusive)

Other networks were offered it, but have opted to support hurricane relief in their own ways

NBC offered to let the other broadcast networks air its Hurricane Sandy telethon Friday night, but all passed and opted to pursue their own efforts to help the recovery, TheWrap has learned.

There's no question every network is trying to help: ABC is devoting its entire broadcast day Monday to raising money for hurricane relief, and its parent company, Disney, has donated $2 million. Fox's corporate parent, News Corp., has given $1 million, and TheWrap has learned that CBS is also making a $1 million donation without formally announcing it. Those are only the most high-profile efforts, which also include crawls during shows and public service announcements.

Also read: CBS Making $1M Contribution to Sandy Relief, Announces Employee Match

But none of NBC's rivals took it up on its offer to air the benefit, which was quickly assembled and would have forced them to reschedule new episodes during a timeslot when NBC had planned a rerun.

The NBC special will be hosted by "Today's" Matt Lauer and feature Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and NBC stars including Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Fallon and Brian Williams. (Among the non-NBC talent expected to take part are Kevin Bacon, the lead on the upcoming Fox show "The Following," and Whoopi Goldberg, a host of ABC's "The View.")

The telethon will air at 8/7c on NBC Universal stations, HBO, Discovery’s Fit & Health and Velocity networks, and The Weather Channel. It will also be streamed on websites including Hulu and USA Today.

Also read: 'Fox and Friends': Is NBC's Sandy Telethon Timed to Help Obama? (Video)

A person at one broadcast network, speaking on condition of anonymity, said logistical problems were one reason it passed: NBC approached other networks Wednesday, ahead of announcing the telethon Thursday morning.

Additionally, all of the other networks were airing original series in the timeslot when NBC designated the telethon to air, which meant they had more to sacrifice than NBC.

Airing the telethon would have forced CBS to preempt the season premiere of "Undercover Boss." ABC would have had to preempt the debut of the new comedy "Malibu Country" and the return of "Last Man Standing." Fox would have had to preempt an episode of "Kitchen Nightmares."

Also read: Hurricane Sandy: NYC Outdoor Filming Permits to Resume Monday

NBC had previously planned to air a repeat of "Revolution."

There is some precedent for all the networks coming together to air a telethon: the major broadcasters — and many other networks — aired all three "Stand Up for Cancer" specials simultaneously. But they were produced by an outside organization, not a single network.

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