January 9, 2009 / 7:10 PM / 10 years ago

"60 Minutes" unveils special edition DVD on Obama

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Taking its cue from Barack Obama’s slogan “Yes we can,” the team at venerable news program “60 Minutes” is taking its chances in the DVD market with a special edition disc covering the president-elect’s path to the White House.

President-elect Barack Obama speaks to the media during a news conference at his transition office in Washington January 7, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

News programing has never been as hot an item as movies or television dramas on DVDs but CBS, the network behind “60 Minutes, says it could release future discs using the program’s brand despite the short shelf-life of news programing.

“We’re always looking for the right opportunity to do this, and you couldn’t find a better example than the Barack Obama story,” said Jeff Fager, executive producer of “60 Minutes.”

The DVD special will be called “Obama: All Access.” It goes on sale the first week of February following Obama’s inauguration January 20. Executives at CBS, which is owned by CBS Corp,, declined to predict how many units might sell.

It is the first time “60 Minutes” has released a special edition DVD with material that never aired on TV which, combined with its four-hour length, sets “Obama: All Access” apart from other “60 Minutes” discs sold in the past two years, network executives said. Those DVDs contained the latest “60 Minutes” stories, but only as they appeared on the program.

The DVD will show Obama’s complete inaugural speech, and other notable campaign speeches. Other features include his first post-election TV interview on “60 Minutes,” which lured 25 million viewers, and previously unaired footage such as him talking about Abraham Lincoln in the Illinois statehouse.

The disc also shows Obama behind-the-scenes with family.

Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, said old news programing can be a tough sell.

“I think a lot of it is how it gets packaged and how it gets marketed,” he said. “We know from the success that a lot of what the History Channel has done that there is quite a market out there for ‘old news,’ which becomes history.”

But Ken Ross, general manager of CBS home entertainment, said many Americans will want this DVD for the same reason they bought up newspapers the day after Obama was elected.

“This is a big, special event and something that people want to own and relive and be able to share,” Ross said.

Future releases of “60 Minutes” specials on DVD could feature interviews with U.S. presidents or Hollywood figures, but no titles are in the works and whatever does get released would have to be of current interest, Fager said.

“Traditionally, journalism is called the first draft of history, and we’ve been there for so many important moments in history,” he said.

“60 Minutes” last year celebrated its 40th anniversary and it has long been among the top-rated TV programs. It features interviews with newsmakers and investigative journalism.

The U.S. network ABC has released old news programing before on DVD under the title “ABC News Classics.”

The ABC series features footage from such historical events as the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the 1997 death of Princess Diana.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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