Local broadcasters, already reeling through Southern California’s economic recession, were dealt another blow by the massive earthquake that rocked the San Fernando Valley early Monday.
All seven local VHS stations broadcast continuously without commercials through the day Monday, representing six-figure losses in advertising revenue.
That economic setback follows continuous coverage necessitated by the recent wildfires that raced through the Malibu area, also resulting in major revenue losses that affected several days.
TV and radio stations were on the air almost immediately after the 4:31 a.m. temblor, some — such as KFWB-AM — operating on emergency power. Some of the stations found themselves relying initially on national coverage while anchors and reporters made it into the studios.
At least one local station was pressed into service, with KCBS-TV using its news helicopter to ferry a burn victim to Sherman Oaks Hospital.
The station’s cameras also captured a rare moment of humor in the otherwise tense day, catching aHighway Patrolman inadvertently driving off a gap in the Santa Monica Freeway. The car fell only a few feet and the officer was unhurt.
Although TV stations were able to operate without interruption, cable systems were knocked out in large sections of the city.
Among those rudely awakened Monday were nearly 100 visiting television critics, here for the twice-annual TV Critics Assn. tour at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena.
Geraldo in town
Geraldo Rivera, also in town for the press tour to plug his new CNBC talkshow , appeared live in-studio at KCBS shortly before 4 p.m. to inform viewers that his syndicated series would be preempted.
Nielsen service apparently wasn’t affected by the quake, as research departments were able to provide recorded overnight ratings once phone lines were up.
It was unclear as of late Monday what effect the disruption would have on local production or when the industry would be up and running again.
Monday already figured to be a light day due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and schools and other public areas will be closed today.
CBS said it was closed due to the earthquake and referred all calls to the network’s New York office.
At least two of CBS’ dramas, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and “Harts of the West,” are shot to the north of Los Angeles in areas that were particularly hard hit by the quake.