D.C. Stations Go Multiplatform for Trump's Inauguration

While global news networks mull the larger implications of the new president, stations keep their eyes on local angles

As the global media masses in Washington to size up a presidential inauguration without precedent, D.C. stations see plenty of opportunity to keep their focus on the effect the Trump era will have on the local community. They are also planning to put a major emphasis on digital platforms as they cover the events of Jan. 20.

“We are trying to make our digital presence as large as possible,” says Matt Glassman, NBC-owned WRC’s assistant news director, adding that the station’s website and apps give the station the ability to expand coverage beyond the norm. “We really want to focus on the fact that people want to see what’s going on outside the official stuff.”

For WRC, that includes live streaming all day from the historic building that houses the Bayou Bakery on Capitol Hill. Anchors will be casually camped out there, chatting about inaugural festivities and their impact on Washingtonians, covering topics like whether the Trumps will frequent local restaurants the way the Obamas have done. Guests will pop in throughout the day, as will reports from staffers spending the day in the field.

WTTG, the Fox O&O, is banking on social media to be the defining tool that will enable the station to “give a modern feel to this inauguration coverage,” says news director Paul McGonagle.

That includes reporters broadcasting live from key sites, such as the inaugural parade route, via Facebook Live. The station also plans to use Banjo, the social media aggregator, to access posts from people who are sharing their experiences, and use them as part of WTTG’s feed, he says.

“We’ll be doing a lot of interactivity with our viewers,” McGonagle says.

Staffers from WUSA, Tegna’s CBS affiliate, and WJLA, the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate, will also be out in full force.

WUSA’s Inauguration Day coverage, which will be an all-day affair on-air and online, will cap off a month-long, multiplatform initiative that encouraged viewers to share questions and concerns about the election and incoming president. Those conversations spurred stories on-air and online.

“We wanted to verify people’s questions and find solutions to issues impacting each person,” says VP and station manager Michael Valentine.

Building on Sacred Ground

In a Greenwich Village building best known to New Yorkers as the longtime home of Tower Records (and for a time the Major League Baseball FanCave), AOL has opened a streaming studio dedicated to its Build platform. Build streams more than 75 live events monthly from London and New York, averaging four hours per day of musical performances, interview sessions and comedy sets. On opening day Jan. 12, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio watched Kat Graham perform as guests ascended the same staircase and saw the same Joy Division and Clash posters that graced Tower back in the day.
—Dade Hayes

CLEARANCE SALE PRICE FOR TV CLEARING COST

It looks like the FCC’s spectrum auction could actually close soon, given how low broadcasters’ asking price has dropped. It is admittedly for less spectrum, 84 MHz versus 126 MHz, but the price is now less than an eighth of that.

TV broadcasters in stage 4 of the reverse portion of the FCC’s incentive auction have set a new price (cost) for clearing off their TV spectrum: $10,054,676,822.

That is a huge drop from the previous round and indicates a number of wireless operators might be able to love, or at least meet, so long as the average price in the top markets also meets the second prong for closing the auction successfully. It is a far cry from the $86 billion broadcaster asking price when the auction began, though that was for much more spectrum.

That $10,054,676,822 is how much the government will have to pay—actually it will be wireless companies if/when the auction finally closes for good—to move broadcasters off 84 MHz of spectrum so it can offer it to forward auction bidders for wireless broadband. That is down from the $43 billion broadcasters wanted for 108 MHz in stage 3.

The 84 MHz translates to seven licenses of 10 MHz apiece (5 uplink and 5 downlink) in each of the 416 partial economic areas (the auction version of “market”), all unimpaired.

Stage 4 of the reverse auction ended Friday the 13th; now it will be up to wireless bidders to determine if that was a lucky number. It would certainly appear to be low enough to get their attention. If there is a God, Stage 4 closes,” said Preston Padden, former executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition.
—John Eggerton