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Inaugural TV Deals Bring Big Bucks, Controversy

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2009 11:07 AM CST
Inaugural TV Deals Bring Big Bucks, Controversy
Americans Aaron Pervin, left, and Kathryn Lankester, right, who supported Barak Obama, watch a TV screen during Obama's victory speech in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008.   (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Barack Obama’s inaugural organizing team has struck the most lucrative series of TV deals ever seen for its slate of inaugural events, raking in more than $5 million from various networks, the Washington Post reports. HBO landed the juiciest prize, paying $2.5 million for exclusive rights to tomorrow’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial. But criticism is flying that the inauguration team is turning into a made-for-TV cash-grab.

“I'm extremely disturbed by it,” said one advocate of media-ownership diversity. “The Lincoln Memorial has such significance, and to not make (the concert) available to the entire country just seems elitist.” HBO says it’s encouraging satellite and digital cable providers to carry the concert for free, but the roughly 40% of cable subscribers without digital service are out of luck. (More HBO stories.)

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