05/19/2010 01:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

48 Hours Infringement

There's a new web-a-zine on the Internet called 48 HR Magazine. But CBS is already claiming title infringement because the creators of the new site have chosen the name of CBS News' long time Saturday night news magazine 48 Hours.

Amazingly, one of the web magazine's founders, Mathew Honan, said, "To be honest, none of us even knew that there was still a program called 48 Hours, so it never crossed our mind."

Ever heard of Google? Search "48 Hours" and most of the top results are the CBS News magazine 48 Hours. (By way of full disclosure, my wife, Susan Zirinsky, is the program's executive producer, and I used to oversee the program when I was an executive at CBS News in the early 90's.)

When launched in January 1988, 48 Hours was the innovative idea of Sony's CEO Sir Howard Stringer, who was then President of CBS News. His concept was to assign reporters and cameramen to follow a subject for 48 hours and then produce a compelling and vividly real one-hour news program on a topic. These teams would capture all the energy, drama and tension while recording dynamic and powerful video from which to produce a riveting hour. Hence, "48 Hours on Crack Street" was the premier episode. Other subjects included life in a hospital emergency room or with the police out fighting crime.

Over time the producers found the program would be more complete if they did not have to limit themselves to a rigid 48 hour shooting schedule. That is because some aspects of a story, or crucial interviews, could not be acquired in that tight a window. Having more time to produce an hour meant producers could choose from a broader array of topics and could reduce costs by minimizing overtime.

The program was originally hosted by the CBS News anchorman Dan Rather and then 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl. An ensemble cast currently presents each hour. Now known as 48 Hours/Mystery, it is also frequently the most viewed television program on Saturday nights with about 6 million viewers.

The program has had an important influence on how video news magazines are shot and edited. 48 Hours reruns have been appearing on cable for many years now, with a version currently on Discovery. And 48 Hours spun off a website last year called "Crimesider". In fact, it is pretty hard to miss 48 Hours.

So San Francisco freelance writer Mathew Honan is either disingenuous, lazy or amazingly naive. However, here's a suggestion, how about calling the new site 2880 Minutes?

By the way, CBS has just announced that 48 Hours/Mystery will be on the schedule again next fall, for its twenty-third season, right there in its regular Saturday night time slot.