Cable Takes Lead Role In Convention Coverage

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Broadcast networks may have written off gavel-to-gavel coverage of the nation’s presidential nominating conventions, but cable networks from Nickelodeon to the news nets will fill the coverage void. 


Meanwhile, other networks such as Starz and Lifetime will make their presence known just off the convention floors in Denver (for the Democrats this week) and St. Paul (for the Republicans Sept. 1-4).

Viewers can get the European take on American politics from BBC America and BBC World News or the teenaged view from MTV’s Street Team ’08 citizen-journalists. They can even get the younger kids’ views, as Nickelodeon will film interstitial content at the conventions, featuring their “news team” of Lilly Collins, Lil’ JJ and Pick Boy. Don’t write the young ones off: in the Nick kid’s primary, the children correctly picked the two nominees would be Sens. John McCain (R.Ariz) and Barack Obama (D.Ill.).

The news networks will be all over the conventions like gravy on spuds. CNN will be live each day from 4 p.m. through midnight, ending with special nightly segments on Larry King Live.

C-SPAN — which Frank Zappa memorably called “the real sushi bar of American politics” — will be live from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, with C-SPAN 2 picking up overlaps, such as the Republican platform meetings scheduled to occur the same time as the Democratic convention and libertarian candidate Ron Paul’s rally during the Republican convention. C-SPAN.org will also light up a new area with video and other linkable information for political bloggers. It’s also supplying seven speeches from each convention to cable affiliates for viewing on demand.

Fox News Channel will offer coverage on all platforms, including mobile, with input from contributors such as Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove. BBC America will also be live, with contributions from Ted Koppel. MSNBC will be live 20 hours a day, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Comedy Central will offer the comedic take, filming The Daily Show With Jon Stewart at the confabs.

Conventioneers will have their brushes with programmers, too. Lifetime will host events scheduled in each city tied to its “Every Woman Counts” public-affairs campaign. In Denver, the party starts at 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Cowboy Lounge in LoDo, with special guests Ashanti, Fran Drescher and Army Wives stars Brigid Branagh and Sally Pressman.

For those who want a break from the Democratic convention floor, Starz is hosting a “green room” just outside the Pepsi Center. Credentialed delegates or other VIPs can watch films there and get some munchies. Or, they can participate in forums planned at the venue by server vendor SeaChange, with speakers including Arianna Huffington and Bobby Shriver.

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