Monday, March 28, 2011


A very interesting report from

From Japan to Libya, disasters and political upheavel around the globe are wreaking havoc on the already-skeletal budgets of cable and broadcast news organizations.
“We've already had a year's worth of breaking news coverage, and it's not even the end of March,” David Verdi, NBC News VP of worldwide newsgathering, told TheWrap.
News organizations may have already spent their annual budgets for covering foreign events and still have nine months to go, one veteran cable news executive told TheWrap.
 "If Saudi Arabia goes up in flames, all bets are off," the executive said. 
The story provide a chart of these costs as well and you can see it here.   Here are some of the costs trying to cover the Japanese earthquake.

The nuclear meltdown in Japan poses its own unique and expensive challenges.

“We bought 10 radiation monitors -- those cost $1,500 a pop. Protective masks that cost a few hundred.

Potassium iodine pills. And we hired a radiation expert on the first day and flew him to Tokyo,” Verdi said.  
One thing working in the news networks' favor: technological advances mean they can get by with smaller crews.
It's possible to get the story with a pair of satellite phones or even an iPad, particularly now that broadcasters have given up longstanding prejudices about the graininess of web video. 
"Ten years ago, in order to cover an event live, it would have required an amount of technology that is difficult to ship, expensive to buy, and requires a lot of manpower. Ten years later all of the equipment is suitcase-size and easily operable by people who are not MIT engineers," Wald said.
Sadly, the price tag for all this coverage hasn't shrunk along with the technology.

The article gives you a sense of how fast your costs can rocket upward with very little ways to recoup. If covering a news story is going to cost you $2 million per month over your fixed costs at some point its going to add up  and something is going to give.

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