Life of the Parties

Variety editorial

John Kerry and John Edwards emerged from last week’s Democratic National Convention energized and upbeat.

But the DNC’s dismal TV ratings underscored a persistent problem for both parties. Even in this hard-fought political season, the general public remains indifferent to the political process.

It prefers Yankees-Red Sox to Bush-Kerry; the Super Bowl and the Olympics to the DNC.

The networks and the politicians already have begun fundamentally rethinking their approach to electoral coverage.

Some media execs have suggested the political parties reduce their nominating conventions to two days instead of four. Democratic party officials privately concede it’s a worthy idea.

Then there’s an even bolder measure. Treat the event like the Super Bowl or the Olympics.

Don’t grant equal access to all of the news networks and cable news orgs. License broadcast rights to the convention to one network exclusively — preferably a network that can leverage the event across the broadest spectrum of media platforms.

Consider the saturation coverage NBC is planning for the Athens Olympics. The big events like swimming and gymnastics will be broadcast live on NBC. Men’s soccer, weightlifting and fencing will air on CNBC. Latin American soccer games will air on Telemundo. Badminton, table tennis and judo will air on Bravo.

Now imagine the possibilities for the Republican National Convention.

The big speeches could air on NBC. CNBC could handle the party coverage and protests and Telemundo the Latino caucus meetings.

And on Bravo, maybe “Queer Eye for the Straight Republican”?

That’s the kind of destination programming even swing voters in battleground states will be sure not to miss.

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