Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Fist Full of Dollars Guarantees TV Access to President Elect Obama

I really don't see how this is legal. But I guess enough lawyers can make anything legal. JC

Inaugural Panel Sells Exclusive TV Rights
$5 Million From Deals Questioned

Barack Obama's inaugural organizing committee has struck deals with three television networks to the tune of more than $5 million, giving the networks exclusive access to inaugural events. But the arrangement is prompting questions about the president-elect's efforts to raise money by turning his inauguration into made-for-TV productions.
All told, Obama's licensing of inaugural events to TV is the most ambitious and expensive in presidential history. Bill Clinton's committee licensed events to HBO and CBS during his first inauguration in 1993, but other presidential committees have generally shied away from selling exclusive rights to official events.
For $2.5 million, HBO purchased the rights to air Sunday's all-star kickoff concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will attend. The concert, featuring the musical stylings of Beyoncé, U2, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder, among others, will be available on television only to those who receive HBO and to households that receive digital cable. In the Washington area, between 60 and 75 percent of cable subscribers will be able to see the concert on cable systems owned by Comcast and Cox Communications.
Walt Disney Co. has paid $2 million to the committee for two programs that will air on its Disney Channel and on its ABC network. The Disney Channel will televise a children's concert Monday night at Verizon Center. Hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the event will feature singers Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovoto, all of whom are Disney Channel stars. Disney will be the only network permitted to carry the concert live.
ABC will carry the "Neighborhood Inaugural Ball," the first of 10 official balls, next Tuesday. The highlight of the program at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center is likely to be Obama's first official speech of the evening and the Obamas' first dance as president and first lady. The ABC program will carry commercial breaks, meaning the network may be able to turn a profit on the event.

© Janet Crain

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