Local Stations Flock to Sochi

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Local stations (mostly NBC affiliates) are sending crews to Sochi to cover the Olympics.

TVNewsCheck says that despite terrorist threats putting Olympics-goers on edge, TV station groups say they are sticking to plans to send some of their biggest contingents ever to the winter games in Sochi, Russia.

About 75 local broadcasters representing mostly NBC affiliates around the country are geared up to go to the games, which will air on NBC Feb. 7-23, says Bob Horner, president of NBC News Channel, which is coordinating the activity.

Large broadcast groups with histories covering Olympics make up the bulk of the local TV delegation. The NBC Owned Television Stations are sending 25 anchors, reporters and producers. Gannett Broadcasting will have 20 in Sochi, including several from newly acquired Belo stations. And Hearst is sending nine. In each case, the contingents are larger than ever before.

Others include Nexstar, which will be going to the Olympics for the first time. The group will be sending two anchors — one from WBRE in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the other from KNWA in Fayetteville, Ark. Schurz’s NBC affiliate KTUU in Anchorage, Alaska is sending someone. So are two Cordillera Communications-owned stations, KOAA Colorado Springs and KVOA Tucson, Ariz., Horner says.

Another 25 or so NBC News Channel staffers — whose duties include producing stories for affiliates — are also scheduled to make the trip.

“Our newsrooms have a commitment to bring that story home,” says Susan Tully, VP of news at NBC-owned KXAS Dallas-Fort Worth, who is coordinating coverage for all 10 of the O&Os. “We just know the value of local content from the games.”

Horner says ensuring the safety of broadcasters has been a primary component of NBC’s larger plans from the get-go and the recent threats do not necessarily come as a surprise.

“I would just say that I don’t believe that any of these concerns are new. It’s a complicated part of the world and a complicated part of Russia,” Horner says. “We have been planning for a long time.”