48 Hours (TV series)

For other uses, see 48 Hours.
48 Hours
Genre Newsmagazine
Created by Howard Stringer
Directed by Rob Klug
Presented by
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 29
No. of episodes 991[1]
Executive producer(s) Susan Zirinsky
Editor(s) Al Briganti
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) CBS News
Original network CBS
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
720p (4:3 SDTV)
1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original release January 19, 1988 (1988-01-19) – present
Related shows 60 Minutes
External links

48 Hours is an American documentary/news magazine television series broadcast on CBS. The series has been broadcast on the network since January 19, 1988. The program airs Saturdays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, as part of the network's placeholder Crimetime Saturday block; as such, it is currently one of only two remaining first-run prime time programs (excluding sports) airing Saturday nights on the major U.S. broadcast television networks (along with Univision's Sabadazo). The program sometimes airs two-hour editions or two consecutive one-hour editions, depending on the subject involved or to serve as counterprogramming against other networks. The current senior executive producer is Susan Zirinsky. Zirinsky has served as executive producer since 1996.[2]

Reruns of 48 Hours are regularly broadcast on Investigation Discovery, the Oprah Winfrey Network and TLC as part of their daytime and/or weekend schedules, with varying titles based on the edition's subject matter (such as 48 Hours Hard Evidence, 48 Hours Investigates (a title that has also been used for the CBS broadcasts), 48 Hours on OWN or 48 Hours on ID).


Original format

The program was created by former CBS News president Howard Stringer. It drew its title, inspiration and original format from the CBS News documentary 48 Hours on Crack Street, which aired in September 1986, centering on the drug crisis plaguing a number of U.S. neighborhoods. Like the original documentary, the program originally focused on showing events occurring within a 48-hour time span; this format was eventually phased out by the early 1990s.

One of the contributors to that program, CBS News correspondent Harold Dow, had been a member of the 48 Hours on-air staff since its premiere. Dan Rather, at the time also serving as anchor of the CBS Evening News, was the primary host of 48 Hours for its first 14 years on the air. In 1997, CBS aired a special episode of 48 Hours titled Property of 48 Hours, which focused on some of the stories over the program's first nine years.

Current format

In the mid-2000s, the program transitioned into its current format, originally known as 48 Hours Mystery although it has since reverted to its original title, which mainly presents "true crime" documentaries.[3]

In 2009, the program featured interviews with Jodi Arias concerning the murder of her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander. These recordings were later used in 2011 as evidence in court to convict Arias, the first time the program's interviews had ever been used in a death penalty trial.[4]

On September 17, 2011, 48 Hours began broadcasting in high definition, making it the last prime time newsmagazine on U.S. broadcast television to convert to the format.


48 Hours Investigates/Mystery

The program was revamped in 2002, when Lesley Stahl took over hosting duties from Dan Rather, and its title was changed to 48 Hours Investigates. The title was changed again to 48 Hours Mystery in 2004, and with its single-topic format, it does not use a single host but is narrated by the reporter assigned to the story. The current format of the documentary primarily deals with real-life mysteries and crime stories, again with just one mystery per episode (such as the murder of Brian Stidham),[5] owing to its heritage structure of featuring a single topic per show.

The program is not confined to reporting mysteries; CBS often uses the 48 Hours title or timeslot to present special reports on events, such as a 2006 report on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007 or coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012. However, the relationship between these special programs and the rest of the program's editions are essentially limited to the program's title.

48 Hours: Live To Tell

48 Hours: Live To Tell uses a different format from the earlier versions of the program. This format does not utilize a narrator; instead the stories are recounted entirely by the victims and those who know the victims of crimes; some episodes also focus on other life-threatening situations, but are recounted in the same manner.

Awards and nominations

The program has received over 20 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards (one in 2000 for the report "Heroes Under Fire"[6] and one for the reports "Abortion Battle" and "On Runaway Street"),[7] and an Ohio State Award.


External links

Preceded by
Davis Rules
48 Hours (TV series)
Super Bowl lead-out program
60 Minutes
Succeeded by
Homicide: Life on the Street
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