Court TV, by its very name, is synonymous with the biggest criminal trials of the 1990s and 2000s, from the Menendez Brothers and O.J. Simpson to Scott Peterson and Martha Stewart.
Even after Turner Broadcasting killed the network in 2008, a former Turner executive Jonathan Katz always believed the name still had value. So a decade later, his Atlanta-based Katz Broadcasting, now part of E.W. Scripps, purchased the intellectual property of Court TV from Turner.
Now the Atlanta-based network is providing live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of one of the most-watched trials in recent memory: the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed a knee on Black man George Floyd on May 25, 2020, for more than nine minutes. The county medical examiner later ruled the death a homicide.
“The death of George Floyd was a watershed moment in the United States and globally,” said Scott Tufts, Court TV senior vice president.
The judge in the case decided to allow cameras in the courtroom for a trial for the first time in the state. The pooled cameras were installed and operated by Court TV.
“We feel this is an opportunity for viewers to find us again, for those who know us, trust us,” Tufts said.
He said Court TV has 24 employees on-site in Minneapolis and are all hands on deck in Atlanta: “We blocked out vacation times for the length of the trial. Everyone who was working on other projects like documentaries has put them down. We want to make sure we can put out our best production on-air.”
Court TV has about 85 people in its entire editorial force.
Tufts flew to Minneapolis during the earlier hearings and met with court officials to discuss airing the trial live. “They didn’t have enough room for all the journalists,” he said. “We didn’t have to explain what the challenges were. They could see it in front of their eyes. We started this conversation on what the cameras looked like, how much space they would take up, where could our people be.”
It’s not that the network isn’t without competition. HLN has committed to heavily covering the trial and Dan Abrams’ "Law & Crime" has also committed to gavel-to-gavel coverage. CNN and MSNBC are regularly dipping into the trial as well and many websites are running livestreams.
Court TV also has a three-hour prime-time show at night almost exclusively focused on the Chauvin case and anchored by Vinnie Politan, part of the original Court TV/HLN team.
The network is not measured by Nielsen, and the company does not release specific viewership numbers. It says ratings are up strongly since the trial began. The network is available on broadcast TV for free, on its own website and on many cable networks. You can also find it on YouTube TV, Pluto TV, SiriusXM, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android and Apple devices.
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