COMMENTS: ABC Lends a Hand

Away from the campaign trail all three networks continue to be preoccupied by the slowing economy. Only ABC assigned a correspondent to news developments on the money front: Martha Raddatz (embargoed link) reported that some members of the House of Representatives are "frankly furious" that the Senate may add spending on infrastructure, housing, home heating and unemployment relief to the $150bn fiscal stimulus package, thus imposing delay on the timetable for cutting rebate checks.

Both CBS and ABC filed features on the housing market. For CBS' Hitting Home series Ben Tracy showed us California "bargain buyers tour of foreclosed homes courtesy of the repo bus" as property is being auctioned off at a 40% discount. ABC launched its series called The Kitchen Table with Betsy Stark's tale of a North Carolina family facing foreclosure because its adjustable rate mortgage had driven its monthly payments up to $2,015 with a 14% rate. The family had been unable to renegotiate with Homecomings Financial until ABC itself came to the rescue, using its clout to achieve a 7.6% fixed rate and a $1,300 monthly payment. "They might have been better walking away from the house," financial planners told Stark. "They put no money down. The house is worth less than they paid for it. In a sense they were just renters paying a rent they could not afford."

NBC's feature was filed by Erin Burnett, a preview of her CNBC primetime special The Millionaire Inside: Debt Makeover on the growth in credit card spending and the mushrooming household debt that results when purchasers borrow instead of paying off their entire balance.


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