Just over one week after CBS steadfastly insisted that its two-part film, The Reagans, would air as planned Nov. 16 and 18, the network reversed course Tuesday morning and pulled the program from its schedule. Instead, CBS has licensed the rights to its co-owned pay cable network Showtime.
In a statement, the network said that despite impressive "production values and acting performances, and although the producers have sources to verify each scene in the script, we believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans for CBS and its audience. Subsequent edits that we considered did not address those concerns."
The network statement added, "A free broadcast network available to all over the public airwaves, has different standards than media the public must pay to view. We do, however, recognize and respect the filmmakers’ right to have their voice heard and their film seen."
The Showtime deal, CBS said, "is a solution that benefits everyone involved." Except perhaps for the tens of millions of network-TV watchers who aren’t about to plunk down the fees to subscribe to Showtime.