The major television networks are going to great lengths to land one of the most sought-after interviews of the Iraq war: former POW Jessica Lynch.
According to a report in Monday's New York Times, CBS News' offer to Lynch, who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in April, combined a two-hour documentary with ideas for possible tie-ins from various entertainment divisions of its corporate parent, Viacom Inc., including MTV, CBS and book publisher Simon & Schuster.
(Viacom is also the corporate parent of CBSNews.com.)
The Times cites a letter sent to Pfc. Lynch's representatives by CBS News: "Attached you will find the outlines of a proposal that includes ideas from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, MTV networks and Simon & Schuster publishers," Betsy West, a CBS News senior vice president, wrote.
"From the distinguished reporting of CBS News to the youthful reach of MTV, we believe this is a unique combination of projects that will do justice to Jessica's inspiring story," the letter continued.
The Times said the CBS offer was renewing concerns about the independence of news divisions owned by media conglomerates.
CBS News denied in a statement that its offer to Lynch tied a news interview to deals with any other divisions at Viacom.
"CBS News does not pay for interviews and it maintains a well-established separation from other parts of Viacom," the statement said. The letters selectively quoted by the Times, when read in their entirety, make that explicitly clear."