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In 1982, Koppel interviewed Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief Yasser Arafat on the program, in which he had indicated that he would not accept conditions from the U. In honor of the 40th Anniversary of D-Day in 1984, Nightline aired a special edition which "covered" the landings on Normandy as though modern television news, along with satellite reports, had existed at the time.The following year in 1985, the program conducted its first on-remote broadcast from South Africa.

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Created by Roone Arledge, the program featured Ted Koppel as its main anchor from March 1980 until his retirement in November 2005. , which previously served as the program's lead-out from 2003 to 2012.

Most other similar shows only air once a week, though usually in a prime time slot for a full hour.

Nightline is usually less sensationalistic than the weekly news magazines (which often emphasize soft news programming, stories of such type – such as pop culture-related stories – Nightline has incorporated to a moderate degree following Koppel's departure), though the program has caused controversy on occasion. In 1984, the program featured an interview with Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, marking his first live television appearance.

Over the years, Nightline had a number of technological firsts.

The program did the first live report from the base of Mount Everest.

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