NEW YORK — The FBI began warning the U.S. news networks and divisions Thursday night of a “credible” terrorist threat targeting media vehicles during the Democratic National Convention in Boston next week.
Feds stressed that the threat comes from a domestic group — not Al Qaeda or any other foreign terrorist group.
Also in Boston on Thursday, reps for Arab satcaster Al-Jazeera met with Democratic convention officials regarding the removal Wednesday of its skybox banner in the Fleet Center.
It’s the first time Al-Jazeera, which also will have a skybox in Madison Square Garden during the Republican convention, is covering the U.S. political conventions.
News execs on scene at the Fleet Center said it was unclear whether the removal was targeted at Al-Jazeera, or whether other media orgs also were asked to take down their signs to make way for more John Kerry banners.
One net exec noted that Al-Arabiya also was asked to take its skybox banner down.
There are roughly 15,000 members of the press descending on Boston to cover the four-day confab.
The FBI’s joint terrorism task force in Boston, which is investigating the terrorist threat against the media, is expected to release a formal threat advisory.
News orgs — well aware of the security concerns surrounding both conventions — had likely taken certain precautions already but declined to discuss any specifics.
The ongoing war in Iraq has led both cable news nets and broadcast news divisions to work much more closely with outside security firms on an ongoing basis, although whether they have done so for the political conventions is unclear.
Authorities believe it was a domestic terrorist who sent anthrax to the broadcast news nets shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001.
FBI warning came the same day that ABC News named its tiny new 24/7 digital news channel ABC News Now. Alphabet anchor Peter Jennings and Sunday morning political host George Stephanopoulos will launch the affiliated service at noon Monday from Boston.
Jennings will continue to anchor convention coverage for the fledgling venture. ABC News’ other top names also will put in time.
ABC News Now — which isn’t likely to reach more than a few million people via television — will operate through the November presidential election.
ABC News prexy David Westin stressed during a conference call that ABC News Now is a multiplatform service, meaning it will also be available to 35 million broadband customers. That includes customers of Comcast, which struck a broadband content deal earlier this week with Disney.
Westin announced that ABC News senior VP Paul Mason, who oversees “Nightline” and “This Week,” will oversee the launch, while ABC News One exec producer Mike Clemente is in charge of programming.
Westin declined to say what the new venture is costing.
All 10 ABC owned-and-operated stations have agreed to broadcast the digital news channel on secondary channels. No affil has signed on so far.