Despite Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best efforts to hold a low-key inauguration, most television stations in California are planning extensive coverage of the swearing-in ceremony Nov. 17.
Many plan to carry the proceedings live.
“It is an important story because it marks the real official start of the greatest peaceful revolution in U.S. political history. This was a ballot box coup,” said Jim Sanders, news director of NBC-owned KNTV in San Francisco. The station will air several advance stories during its regular 10 a.m. newscast next Monday and will carry the ceremony live at 11 a.m.
In addition, he expects the inauguration to be the lead story, barring any other big news that day, on the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts Nov. 17.
While the new administration said it will keep a lid on the fanfare, journalists won’t be deterred by the frugal event. “Pared down or not, there is significant pomp and ceremony to any change of government in this country,” Mr. Sanders said.
Cox-owned Fox affiliate KTVU-TV in San Francisco, which set the pace in the Bay area with the first gubernatorial debate this summer, also plans live coverage. Political editor Randy Shandobil will be on hand. KTVU is looking into opening a Sacramento, Calif., bureau.
Viacom-owned CBS affiliate KPIX-TV has opened a Sacramento bureau and hired its local free-lance reporter John Lobertini as a full-time staffer. The station will cover the inauguration extensively, said news director Dan Rosenheim. He would not divulge specifics of his plans for competitive reasons.
“We are treating the inauguration as a very large news event,” he said. “It’s an event that we will invest time and energy and resources [in] thoroughly. It’s going to be a big deal for us. Whether they do low-key or not, it’s a major news event.”
Young Broadcasting-owned independent station KRON-TV in San Francisco also will carry the occasion live, replacing its midday news at 11:30 a.m.
In Los Angeles, stations varied on whether they planned to carry the ceremony. NBC-owned KNBC-TV will air the inauguration live. Fox-owned KTTV will send a crew to Sacramento and cover the event for the morning and late news but will not carry it live. Tribune-owned WB affiliate KTLA-TV will send a crew to Sacramento for live reports for “Morning News” and “News@Ten,” but no live coverage is planned.
KTLA has been circumspect about breaking into programming for news events. “I just think, that again, it’s one of those situations where we are going to have a number of stations in the market doing it, and I don’t see why we should interrupt our programming for it,” said News Director Jeff Wald.
“I think our viewers are used to watching us at certain times of the day. The ratings are just not there for news or anything [during the day]. That whole daypart is low at broadcast stations, so to disrupt whatever following we have at that time [doesn’t make sense],” he said.
ABC-owned KABC-TV in Los Angeles said it is formulating its coverage plans.
In San Diego, NBC-owned KNSD-TV plans to carry the inauguration live.