The news departments at WTWO(TV) and WTHI-TV have been covering one of the biggest stories in years, but it's unclear when they will be able to air the final chapter. The execution of Timothy McVeigh for killing 168 people when he bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was scheduled for May 16, then postponed after it was discovered that the FBI had not given defense counsel more than 4,000 pages of documents prior to the 1997 trial. McVeigh's lawyers asked a federal judge for another delay, saying the government had committed a "fraud upon the court," but that request was denied last Wednesday.
The delays are costing the TV stations money, but both general managers are fairly sanguine about the situation. "We're kind of in a catch-22," says Frank Forgey, general manager of WTWO. "It's a fact of life; we'll take whatever kind of losses we have and plan to do the same thing again." His station's expenses prior to May 16 included "the construction of a platform at the prison, special power generators, telephone lines and budgeting for food for our personnel." And there's also overtime, he adds: "The June 11 date was scheduled for 7 a.m., and we're not exactly staffed for live capability at 7 a.m. Those are just some of the expenses we've encountered which are not going to change. We're going to have these again."
David Bailey, general manager of WTHI-TV, is in the same boat. "We have spent a tremendous amount of not only money. We've been planning for this thing for six months, so, from both a technical standpoint and a news-coverage standpoint, we've spent an awful, awful lot of time. The good thing is that, even with the postponement, we've got that all done, and we're ready. From a cost standpoint, we're estimating that primarily from overtime for news personnel and other station personnel, plus a little bit of technical expense, we're going to spend $10,000 to $12,000."