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Plans Set for GOP Confab

Aug 30, 2004  •  Post A Comment

TV news organizations are largely using their Democratic National Convention playbooks for the four-night Republican National Convention, which opens Aug. 30 in Manhattan.

The TV news industry, however, will keep more watchful eyes on protesters, who are expected to descend on New York in greater numbers than they did in Boston for the DNC.

The broadcast networks are limiting prime-time convention coverage to one hour, starting at 10 each night Tuesday through Thursday. More timely coverage of the Republicans’ Monday night speakers-most notably former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain-is scheduled on the cable news networks, C-SPAN, PBS and ABC’s broadband-digital offering, ABC News Now.

With its RNC coverage, ABC News Now hits the midpoint of its test run with some 70 local stations broadcasting convention content in high definition and a potential digital cable audience of more than 6 million viewers. There is no guarantee that its run will be extended beyond the presidential election Nov. 2.

Video-on-demand offerings for convention coverage have expanded with C-SPAN’s deal with Comcast to make key convention speeches available on a day-later basis to Comcast digital cable subscribers in some markets for two-week periods.

In addition, Voom’s HDNews will telecast hi-def feeds piped out of Madison Square Garden by CNN, the pool organization for the Republican convention. HDNews also plans to present live reporting from the convention floor and coverage of President Bush’s arrival, plus breaking news from the streets and sidewalks of New York. Voom will dedicate another channel separate to live (and replayed) and uninterrupted coverage each night of the convention.

The fact that the networks are not scheduled to do prime-time packages Monday night does not mean their main players will have the day off.

  • “ABC World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings will be presiding over and reporting on the convention for ABC News Now, just as he will on the other nights. In addition, Mr. Jennings will do a special convention report during halftime in “Monday Night Football.”
  • “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw once again is anchoring a half-hour show for MSNBC titled “Brokaw in New York”-similar to his “Brokaw in Boston”–seen at 4 p.m. on MSNBC each convention day. As in Boston, Mr. Brokaw and network colleagues, including “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert Andrea Mitchell, will contribute updates and analysis to MSNBC’s daytime and evening schedules.
  • And “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather and CBS News will work with WCBS-TV reporters on a 10-11 p.m. Monday convention report to be broadcast only in New York.
  • CNN will not have its anchor set on the convention floor, as it did in Boston, but promises its anchors will be located among delegates. It has rented the nearby Tick Tock Diner for an off-site spot where delegates, newsmakers and members of the media can kibitz, nibble and get wi-fi access.
  • MSNBC’s evening coverage, anchored again by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews, will originate largely from busy Herald Square two long blocks east of the Garden.

    About the Garden, where unions control what gets done by whom and at what price, there were complaints that essential services were priced like luxuries-“Nightmare charges,” said one news executive. “We went in there thinking we would be paying one thing and learning we would be paying more.”