Cut programming for 'round-the-clock coverage of wildfires


SoCal broadcasters cut programming for ’round-the-clock coverage of wildfires. Local broadcasters in California have been providing around-the-clock news coverage of the California wildfires, in many cases canceling regularly scheduled programming and the ad revenue that goes along with it. This is just another chapter in the long history of broadcast service during times of crisis.

Said NAB President and CEO David Rehr: "NAB salutes California’s local radio and television broadcasters for serving as a lifeline to listeners and viewers with timely, around-the-clock coverage of the horrific wildfires. From emergency weather warnings to AMBER Alerts, broadcasting’s public service ethic is well-documented. It is unfortunate that it sometimes takes a disaster of the magnitude of the Southern California fires to remind people of local broadcasting’s day-in and day-out commitment to serving the public interest."

Excerpts from an LA Times story: "As with other stations, KNBC-TV Channel 4 deployed almost all of its news operation for fire coverage. The NBC Universal O&O station broke from its wall-to-wall fire coverage only for a few hours of NFL football and live "Today" show feeds. "This is what local television is supposed to be about," KNBC news director Bob Long told the paper.

Except for the early morning hours, duopolies such as KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV-and KTTV-TV and KCOP-TV-were able to run coverage on at least one of their stations over almost all of Sunday and Monday. The twin-sister station arrangement allowed both KCBS and KTTV to broadcast major sporting events-the NFL for CBS and the American League Championship Series for Fox-Sunday without losing fire coverage.

On Monday, KABC notably bumped its afternoon syndicated hit "Oprah" for fire coverage. It used a news scrawl to alert viewers that preempted daytime soaps could be seen on the network’s sister cable stations. But KTLA-TV scaled back by mid-afternoon Monday, returning to its regular daytime programs.
The scope, unpredictability and ferocity of the fires exhausted news crews, leaving even the largest local operations scraping for extra bodies.
‘Everybody that is on our list-staff, freelance, anybody who has ever worked for us-is getting a phone call, ‘Hey, can you come in?” said Paul Button, KCBS’ assistant news director, told the paper. ‘We’ve got all our live trucks, both choppers out there. Everything feels very, very taxed’."