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July 09, 2008

Networks May Cut Back Coverage of the Democratic Convention Owing to Venue Change

The DNC has already placed unreasonable (sometimes impossible!) demands on participants and vendors at the Denver convention. Frustrated caterers have received the most discussion in the news, but now the news networks are showing a little frustration of their own. Moving Obama's acceptance speech from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field has saddled them with expanded and unexpected costs. The consequence:

According to several broadcast executives, the networks will still cover all the major speeches. But beyond that, all options are open as they look for savings to balance out the anticipated costs surrounding the stadium event. The acceptance event is an unexpected departure from the traditional convention hall format for which they have spent months planning. [...]

“We're trying to figure out ways to cover what we need to cover and still stay in our budget,” said Bob Murphy, a 30-year veteran of ABC News and the executive in charge of the network's convention coverage. “The change in the schedule clearly has put some very severe cost issues on the table and we are trying to figure out how to deal with that.”

Among the options now being considered by broadcast executives is a reduction in staffing at the Democratic convention, with some news staff being asked to stay back in New York or Washington instead of traveling to Denver — though that is a measure the networks hope to avoid.

For the past year, Americans have tuned in to Election 2008 events in numbers that rival prime-time TV shows. Public interest in politics is higher than it has ever been. But news reporting is expensive and competition between networks is fierce. The DNC should have expected that a relatively late venue change would have unexpected costs.

UPDATE with Lefty Complaint: I'm highlighting this particular lefty response only because it is so stupid. I want as many people as possible to know what a freakin' idiot Jed Lewison is:

Is that really the message that they want to send about how they decide what's news? That they just look at the dollars and cents of the bottom line? What about news value?

Is it not newsworthy that on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, 80,000 Americans will witness an African-American accept a major party's presidential nomination for the first time in our nation's history? Is that not in fact a historic event?

How dare they even consider cutting back just to save a few bucks -- especially after all the money they've made during this year's extended primary season.

He seems to be under the impression that news coverage is a public service provided regardless of cost. In his small mind, news networks should be begging for the opportunity to cover the convention. He's also got a reading comprehension problem since, if he'd read the article he links to (the same one I did), he'd know that the networks plan to cover all the speeches, including the "historic event" at Invesco.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:39 AM

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