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01.19.2009
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Media set for extensive Inauguration coverage

All the major broadcast and cable networks will be carrying the Obama inaugural ceremony live in HD, beginning at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Most will also carry the parade after the swearing-in ceremony, while CNN International will produce global coverage, and Eurovision will deliver HD feeds to European broadcasters.

MSNBC and Screenvision will display the news channel’s video from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in 27 motion picture theaters throughout the country. Free tickets are available from MSNBC to watch the ceremony in Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Hartford-New Haven; Houston; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; Memphis; New York; Orlando; Phoenix; Providence; San Diego; Seattle; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; and West Palm Beach.

In a new twist, Obama himself used YouTube to announce many of the telecasts. “You don’t have to brave the crowds and commotion in order to participate in this celebration, because we’ve made this Inauguration open and accessible to communities across our nation,” Obama said in the video. “Just text the word ’open’ to 56333 for news, transportation updates, and ways you can participate.”

Mobile phone carriers worry about the expected surge in wireless calls, texting and video sharing during the event. All the companies are beefing up facilities in the Washington, D.C. area. “It’s the mother of all demand,” said Joseph Farren, an executive with a wireless trade group in Washington.

On Sunday night, HBO broadcast a celebration from the Lincoln Memorial. The Disney Channel is broadcasting a Kid’s Inaugural concert. On Tuesday evening, Obama and his wife will attend a Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, which will be broadcast on ABC. It is one of 10 balls the Obamas will attend.

Many niche networks will be on-hand to bring their own perspective to coverage. For example, TV One, a cable and satellite network geared to African-American adults, will broadcast live. Nickelodeon, the kid’s network, will have its youth correspondents on the story. Even shopping network QVC sees an opportunity — it will sell more than 100,000 items related to Obama’s election, including commemorative coins, stamps and jewelry.

CNN and Facebook have teamed to allow friends to communicate with each other while watching the Inauguration. The experiment, running at CNN.com/live, expects a large audience. “We’re building the technical infrastructure for the possibility that this may be the most watched event ever on the Internet,” said KC Estenson, president of CNN.com, to “MediaWeek.” CNN will offer Internet viewers four simultaneous live feeds of the events.



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