SBD/February 5, 2013/Media

CBS Faced Technical Issues Along With Challenge Of Reporting On Blackout

McManus (l) said he still hasn't gotten an explanation on the reason for the blackout
CBS during the Super Bowl XLVII power outage was "faced with trying to maintain its live coverage, with all but three or four cameras no longer functioning, and report on the cause of the blackout," according to Bill Carter of the N.Y. TIMES. CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that the net's production team "learned that some hand-held cameras on the sidelines had power, so Steve Tasker, a sideline reporter, was charged with presenting the first report on what was transpiring." The net then "started setting up its team of studio hosts in a position on the floor of the Superdome." CBS President & CEO Les Moonves said that the net was "never in danger of having to go dark," and that the CBS News studio in N.Y. could "gear up at a moment’s notice." He added that CBS "could have transferred the news coverage to that studio if it had to." Carter noted CBS "also had a production studio available in New Orleans to service the company’s cable channel, the CBS Sports Network." Moonves said that he was "told quickly that the blackout had something to do with a power source being overtaxed and 'needing to cool down' before play could resume." Moonves: “We were told it would be 20 minutes. We knew we wouldn’t be down for hours.” McManus, asked whether CBS had been aggressive enough in seeking information about the blackout itself, said the network was aware that “people would be saying CBS should be giving us some information." He said, "We were asking everybody we knew. But we just had no information at that point" (NYTIMES.com, 2/4).

I SEE A DARKNESS: In L.A., Joe Flint notes if "only CBS had lost power" and the game continued, it "would have been a disaster of epic proportions for the network." McManus called the blackout a "surreal situation," but said, "If this had been in the CBS compound that would been a bigger problem." He acknowledged that the net "should have done a better job of communicating with viewers about what was going on at the Superdome when the lights went out." McManus added that he "still has not gotten an explanation on what caused the failure." But if he "had to do it over again he would have pushed harder to get an NFL representative on camera" (L.A. TIMES, 2/5). SportsNet N.Y.’s Ryan Asselta said CBS "looked a little bad on this.” Once the net "established this wasn’t safety issue,” the NFL “had to get in front of the camera and tell us what was going on.” Asselta said CBS put Tasker "in a tough spot” during its blackout coverage. Tasker is a "guy that is not a reporter by trade” and he “was stumbling, bumbling out there” ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 2/4). 
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