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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

CBS turns the lights off early on Billy Joel concert

Billy Joel performs live in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 23, 2006.    (Nicolas Khayat/Abaca Press/TNS)
By Neal Justin Star Tribune

Don’t blame the local TV station for cutting off Billy Joel.

It was the CBS network that started the firestorm on Sunday night when the network decided to break away early from the taped broadcast of “Billy Joel: The 100th – Live at Madison Square Garden,” forcing local affiliates to start their late-night newscasts.

The veteran musician was wrapping up “Piano Man,” one of his most beloved ballads, when the screen went blank for a few seconds at around 10:30 p.m., then went to local news in markets throughout the East and Central time zones.

The concert was scheduled to end at 10 p.m. but was delayed because of bonus coverage of the Masters golf tournament earlier in the evening. Fans on social media were quick to blame their local stations but it was purely a network decision.

CBS has yet to address the outrage.

But it could have long-range implications.

In 1968, NBC decided to break away from a close game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders to start its presentation of the movie, “Heidi.” The call was so unpopular that it changed the way TV aired NFL games.

Those who subscribe to Paramount+ can watch the entire concert, which included an appearance from Sting, on the streaming service.