TV News Organizations Grapple With Obama’s Denver Plans

Jul 7, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Barack Obama’s decision to move to a larger venue to deliver his speech accepting his party’s nomination on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, has TV news organizations back at the drawing board to figure out how to deal with the unexpected logistical challenge.
However, cable and broadcast news organizations can’t begin drawing up concrete plans for the Aug. 28 event at the open-air Invesco Field at the 76,000-seat Mile High Stadium until the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign make some basic decisions about things like where the stage will be.
The first three nights of the convention still will take place across town at the 21,000-seat Pepsi Center.
After a Monday afternoon conference call with representatives of the five major news organizations, the DNC and the Obama campaign, CNN was feeling good about its plans to have its CNN Election Express bus on the scene in Denver.
“It’s an instant four-camera, high-definition remote [facility],” David Bohrman, the Washington bureau chief who is the chief producer of CNN’s political coverage, said after the call. “Thank goodness we built the bus.”
MSNBC is glad it had decided to construct a base for its anchors at a location outside the Pepsi Center.
Some of the immediate complications will be confronted by Fox News Channel, which is providing the pool feed to other TV outlets of official events on stage at both the Pepsi Center and Mile High.
Marty Ryan, Fox News executive producer of political programming, said he already has people in Denver because of a previously scheduled walk-through this week of the Pepsi Center facilities.
Once more is known, all of the news organizations will have to make decisions about what can be done to keep pool and unilateral costs close to what had been budgeted when there was only one convention site involved.
As for Fox News’ unilateral coverage plans, Mr. Ryan said Fox has “enough resources” but “eventually we’ll take a little from Column A and put it in Column B” to accommodate the cost questions and the expanded turf that must be covered.
As one news executive put it Monday, no one has unlimited money to spend on the back-to-back nominating conventions, which already will test news organizations who have only three days to break down in Denver and set up for the Republican convention in Minneapolis the following week.


  1. The Pepsi Center & Mile High stadium are not “across town” but in fact about 6 blocks from each other, and very easily navigated.

  2. This brings up the old question for a broadcast entity, be it a network or a local station.
    “Do you want to be in the facility business?”
    Apparently CNN made one commitment with their 4 Camera HD Unit. For them it makes sense to be able to know what they can do, as long as they can get it to the point of need in time.
    Having been in both positions, as a facility provider and as a production person at the network level, I found that I prefered to hire the facility that met my needs of the moment. for the moment.
    The cost and dedication to keep a mobile facility up-to-date and fully functional requires expenditures of personnel time and dollars on a 24/7 basis. Add in today’s fuel costs on top of a never ending out-of-pocket cash flow and you’re talking big money.
    I understand the “Splash” element the outdoor speech will render for the candidate and the Party, but I also see a logistical headache if it rains, splash could the operative word in that case.
    Technically the Pool will figure out their needs and make their deals among themselves to make it happen. Remember the budget you guys had…dig deeper!
    Peter Bright

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