All hands on deck for inauguration

Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:08pm EST
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By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - For television producers and correspondents covering the inauguration, Tuesday will be one for the history books.

Like everything surrounding the 2008 presidential campaign, the inauguration of Barack Obama dawns with broadcast media swinging for the fences. Not only are the usual suspects bringing their A teams, but cable networks as diverse as BET, TV One, Al Jazeera and ESPN are offering live coverage of Obama's swearing-in. MTV will focus on inaugural coverage in the evening.

Add the expected crush of millions of the at-work audience tuning in around noon EST, and it's not a stretch to say this could be the most widely seen inauguration in U.S. history. The record, by far, is the 42 million who tuned in to see Ronald Reagan's first inauguration January 20, 1981.

"If you love American history, this is the Super Bowl, and it caps a Super Bowl political season," said NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who will attend his seventh inauguration.

It also comes with Super Bowl-like expenses, if not Super Bowl-like advertising rates.


The networks have shelled out millions for shared coverage and millions more for extra camera angles, high-definition equipment and prime locations on and around Capitol Hill. The coverage is ad-supported, but ads will not be as plentiful as during regular programing.

ABC's ceremony coverage is sponsored by Audi, and will not include commercials. CNN goes commercial-free at 11 a.m. and into the afternoon. MSNBC will not take commercial breaks before or after the noon swearing-in but will carry a normal load of ads later.   Continued...

<p>Singer Beyonce performs at the 'We Are One': Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young</p>