NY1's Helping Hand Aids CNN


New York 1 News helped bail out its bigger corporate sibling, Cable News Network, during the big blackout.

Last Thursday, NY1 lent CNN a satellite truck and permitted anchors Paula Zahn and Aaron Brown to telecast from the local news channel's roof at Chelsea Market in Manhattan, according to NY1 general manager Steve Paulus. Wolf Blitzer also did live reports from the street in front of NY1's headquarters.

"Without NY1, CNN would have been in pretty bad shape," Paulus said. "They've acknowledged that we really kept them on the air."

CNN did not have sufficient backup power at its New York offices at Penn Plaza, and its Manhattan operation "descended" on NY1's headquarters, Paulus said.

NY1 "was critical" in permitting CNN to continue anchoring its coverage out of New York last Thursday, CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. But she added that CNN offered "seamless" blackout reporting through its studios and reporters in Atlanta and Washington and its bureaus throughout the country.

NY1 was in an odd predicament. It has an emergency generator that runs on diesel fuel, so it was able to continue cablecasting throughout the blackout. But the local news channel lost it primary distribution outlet, Time Warner Cable of New York, when the cable system's emergency power ran out, roughly 9 p.m. Thursday, five hours after the blackout started, a NY1 spokesman said.

Nonetheless, NY1 continued to produce a feed that most New Yorkers couldn't see.

"Our back-up power worked like a charm," Paulus said. "We didn't lose a beat…But the problem was the cable system was down. There was nothing we really could do until it started coming up the next day…There was no way of knowing when the power would come back, so we kept programming wheels. But we weren't doing live."

Time Warner in New York couldn't be reached for comment Aug. 18.

Paulus, who was actually in California last week on business, said he watched a NY1 videostream available to the channel's managers on his laptop in San Diego during the blackout.

The cable system was back in operation, in stages, last Friday afternoon, after its headquarters on West 23rd
Street got a delivery of fuel for its emergency generator.

NY1 and CNN, both owned by AOL Time Warner, had discussed teaming up in emergency situations following Sept. 11, according to Paulus.

Oxygen is also Chelsea Market like NY1, and also has an emergency power supply and never went off the air, a spokeswoman said.