UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 17, 2009

OBAMA USING PUBLIC SPACE & PUBLIC EVENT TO MAKE MONEY FOR HIS COMMITTEE

Washington Post - 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. The arrangement is prompting questions about the president-elect's efforts to raise money by turning his inauguration into made-for-TV productions. . . Network representatives said inaugural committee planners "shopped" the TV rights and sought the most attractive offers. . . The TV contracts, however, have prompted questions about the committee's efforts to raise funds by turning inaugural events into TV productions that benefit a single entertainment concern, rather than pooling the footage so that it is widely available to all.

"I'm extremely disturbed by it," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington group that promotes media-ownership diversity. "The Lincoln Memorial has such significance, and to not make [the concert] available to the entire country just seems elitist.". . .

A C-SPAN spokesman, John Cardarelli, said the network was told by the inaugural committee that it could not cover the neighborhood ball.

C-SPAN and other networks faced a similar situation in 1993 when HBO had exclusive rights to carry an inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The networks were permitted to cover remarks by Clinton and Vice President-elect Al Gore along with readings, but were banned from showing live footage of such musical acts as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

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