Working Around the RNC


Time Warner Cable will serve its subscribers here by hook or by crook — and by foot — this week when the Republican National Convention descends on the Big Apple.

“If it’s necessary, we’re prepared to put some technicians on foot in and around town,” said Harriet Novet, vice president of public affairs for Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey. “In the frozen zone [around Madison Square Garden, where the convention takes place] some technicians will be on foot. We’re expecting gridlock everywhere.”

Time Warner isn’t the only cable company with offices in Manhattan that’s making accommodations for the convention, which promises to complicate life in the city, with protesters abounding and streets shut down. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic around the Midtown arena will be rerouted.

Cablevision Systems Corp. is renting the Garden to the RNC, and the company’s MSG Network put its nightly MSG SportsDesk program on hiatus until Sept. 7.

An MSG spokeswoman said the Garden is renting the SportsDesk studio to the RNC as a broadcast facility.

MSG officials wouldn’t discuss the security measures that are in place for employees during the convention.

Programmers such as Lifetime Television — which had a building-wide evacuation drill last week — Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. and ESPN will remain open for business this week in the Big Apple.

Some programmers, such as MTV Networks, are allowing employees — especially workers who come into the city via Penn Station, beneath the Garden — to telecommute and work from home.

“Basically, we’re making allowances as needed,” MTVN spokeswoman Jeanine Smartt said. “A number of people have opted to take vacation. There are certainly a vast number who will be working from home. All the laptops are gone.”

In a memo to employees, ESPN suggested employees who commute to New York find alternate routes, leave for work earlier or even elect to stay out of Manhattan at least one day to attend the network’s 25th anniversary picnic in Bristol, Conn., on Monday.

Time Warner is in the thick of things. Its offices are on East 23rd Street, with its fleet of trucks at two different locations.

“We’ve done a couple of things for customers, and we’re trying to accommodate our employees as well,” Novet said. “We lightened up the installation schedule for [this] week, because we don’t want to make a commitment to a customer and then not be able to meet that commitment. We don’t want to disappoint them. ”

Time Warner will also put two technicians in service vehicles, not one, so if a truck must double-park there will be someone move it in case police come along.

Essential employees — like those in the payment center, customer service and the control room — have to come in. But Novet said, “On a case-by-case basis, we’re allowing nonessential folks to operate from home.”

Music network Fuse has a glass-front studio on Seventh Avenue, between 31st and 32nd streets, right across from the Garden.

“I feel so lucky for us having a street-front studio,” said Fuse head of programming Rob Weiss. “We basically have floor seats to the ultimate sporting event that is happening. We’re right there across the street. It seemed like a really great opportunity to speak to our audience about politics.”

Fuse does a live daily show from that studio, Daily Download, that’s expanding to two hours for the convention, according to Weiss. The show will air from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Given the nature of what’s going on across the street, we’re gong to sort of, pun intended, fuse together music and politics in a fun way that’s relevant to our audience,” Weiss said. He added that Fuse has worked with New York police to make sure guests for the show make it into the studio.

“We wouldn’t be doing a two-hour live show unless we felt completely comfortable from every aspect,” Weiss said.

As Fuse is so close to the Garden, it told employees worried about the anticipated “congestion and craziness to feel free to take vacation or personal days. But surprisingly, very few people opted,” Weiss said. “I live five blocks from here, and I actually cancelled my vacation.”

Steve Donohue contributed to this story.