NBC to ease impact of 'Bulletin'
New York — NBC News has won the battle! Or has it? The controversy at NBC concerning the airing of ''Special Bulletin,'' a provocative Entertainment Division drama about terrorism in Charleston, S.C., which uses a simulated news format (Sunday, 9 to 11 p.m.), has been resolved by top NBC brass. NBC News president Reuven Frank objected because he felt some viewers might believe the fictional event was really happening, a la Orson Welles's infamous ''War of the Worlds'' broadcast in 1939. NBC Entertainment felt too many disclaimers would have a negative impact upon the show.
NBC released the following statement Thursday: ''The only concern of NBC News was that 'Special Bulletin' might have been confused with a news program. We agreed on various steps to ensure that the average viewer will not be misled in that way.''
What will be done? According to Monitor TV critic Arthur Unger:
* NBC is increasing the number of times the following visual advisory will be shown on screen: ''The following program is a realistic depiction of fictional events. None of what you are about to see is actually happening.'' This message will also be read by an announcer.
* There will be an increase in the number of messages that identify the drama as a ''Movie of the Week.''
* The words ''a dramatization'' will be superimposed on screen during the climactic portions of the program.
Perhaps most important, the regularly scheduled ''NBC News Capsule'' that usually airs on Sundays between 9 and 11 p.m. will be eliminated for this week only.
So while NBC News appears to have won the battle, Entertainment really has the last word: The show itself is a strong indictment of the way network news handles events such as blackmail threats by terrorists.