The DNCC announced yesterday that they would move the last night of their Denver convention to Invesco Field in order to accommodate a large throng of cheering supporters. The move is intended to give Barack Obama a big boost for his acceptance speech, the final event of the convention, but it may mean a lot less coverage for the rest of the festivities. Networks spent months planning their coverage, and the additional cost will force cutbacks:
According to several broadcast executives, the networks will still cover all the major speeches. But beyond that, all options are open as they look for savings to balance out the anticipated costs surrounding the stadium event. The acceptance event is an unexpected departure from the traditional convention hall format for which they have spent months planning.
Network executives expect Obama’s relatively late-breaking decision to speak at Invesco Field at Mile High, a 76,000-seat football stadium, could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs to already cash-strapped news divisions. Each network has budgeted millions to cover the political conventions, but that spending is already accounted for in specific costs ranging from hotel rooms to staffing to building convention platforms.
As Paul Friedman of CBS News put it, the move and its additional cost calls into question whether the networks should cover the convention at all. He calls it a “non-event”, which is true of most conventions. For this one, most of the interesting news stories will come long before Obama’s speech at Invesco. If Hillary Clinton decides to conduct a floor challenge, that will grab attention, but that’s a long shot at best.
For a campaign short on cash and long on organizing troubles, this move complicates matters beyond belief. For a short-term benefit of having some good optics for Obama’s speech, the DNCC has added layers of costs for security and access that could easily have been avoided. They have also risked the national coverage they need for the big bounce candidates usually get from conventions, all to highlight a speech that viewers could have seen just as easily from the Pepsi Center. Had they planned this from the beginning, it might have made more sense, but now it’s just a costly vanity.
If this is the kind of planning that an Obama administration would bring to government, voters may well wonder what vanities will follow next.