Friday, March 24, 2006

Fatherland, Fatherland ...

Germany by CIA factbookSo I got some good news today, although some of you might think I am crazy for saying that it's good news. I am not going to the World Cup soccer tournament in Germany this June! As I said, some of you might think I'm nuts, but to me it was a welcome relief.

See the deal is that the powers that be at my job don't want to - or say they cannot afford to - buy the broadcast rights for big events like the Olympics or the World Cup. That's understandable; NBC paid almost a billion dollars for the rights to the Olympics and the taxpayers ain't gonna foot that kind of bill.

But it makes it difficult if you have to cover events like the World Cup because if you don't pay, you have very little access. You get what's called a "non-rights holding" credential, which means that the closest you will get to the players is waving at the team bus as it goes by.

You can't go to the news conferences with a recorder, you can't go to practice fields or what's called a "mixed zone" after the games. So you are basically stuck watching the party without being able to participate. For a reporter - someone who is there to tell others who cannot be there what is happening - that is slow death.

My agency's solution is to give you small-format TV camera and a laptop and send you to the boonies on the taxpayer's dime to do features - you know "this is Klaus the sausage grinder whose business has been here in Gelsenkirchen since the 1880s." Makes me want to vomit, and it's a waste of taxpayer money. If you want someone to report from the games, to say who won, who lost, and why, then I'm your man. If you want Klaus, forget it.

So my editor let me off the hook today. Turns out, we are having a huge hassle getting credentials anyway. Apparently the people who hold the radio rights are not allowing us - or CNN or some other news agencies - to get creds because they paid for the rights.

Again - like my earlier post on Daron Rahlves's dog - you no pay, you no get in. And if I had to buy a ticket to see a game, forget about it. I'd rather be home with my wife - who happens to have been born in Germany of all places!

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