Thursday, September 25, 2008

Phil Spector Trial Coverage: Latest News

The big question on everyone's mind is, will there be live streaming coverage of Phil Spector's retrial for the murder of Lana Clarkson? There was a strong Internet following during the first trial and many of the same people want to see this case through to a conclusion.

During the last pre-trial hearing, Judge Fidler announced that not a single media organization had filed the appropriate paperwork to have cameras in the courtroom. In the interim, donchais put out some feelers to media groups to see if there was anyone who would be willing to cover it. When they came back to us with the monthly production costs, we were in shock. Just covering the basic expenses would run $30,000 a month. The media group asked us, "Would people be willing to pay to view this trial?" To find out, donchais and I made inquiries on quite a few Internet crime forums and message boards. We also asked people to sign a petition that someone else had started the day before. Unfortunately, the responses we got back were not what we had hoped to see.

On a whim, yesterday I called the Los Angeles County Court's Public Information Office, asking if any media groups had submitted requests to cover the trial. Surprisingly, I was told that The Associated Press had requested to put a still photographer in the courtroom, and that local TV station KTLA (Channel 5) had filed for "TV coverage." KTLA's application requested to cover the following: "opening statements, portions of testimony, closing arguments, verdict, and sentencing."

Today I found out that both applications had been approved by Judge Fidler. Interestingly, the public information officer informed me that as of today, TruTV/CNN has NOT submitted an application to cover the trial.

Everyone should note that KTLA's application did not indicate that they were requesting "gavel to gavel" filming. I think the answer to this is two fold. First, even Judge Fidler said at the last hearing that the media interest had wained for the retrial. And I can attest to that. There have been very few reporters who have shown up to cover the last several months of pretrial hearings. There is usually a still photographer set up in the jury box, but gone are the days that a film camera would be there or a local radio station such as KFWB would have taped the hearing. I also think that with waning media interest, there isn't a news organization that is willing to invest in a trial that may drag out for five months again.

For those who don't know, KTLA is owned by The Tribune, the same company that owns The Los Angeles Times. Just this past July, The LA Times (as well as a sister paper, the Chicago Tribune) went through a major restructuring and massive layoffs. Approximately 150 Times reporters were given pink slips. Fewer reporters means less staff available to sit in a courtroom all day to cover a trial with little media interest. My friends in the media have told me that covering Spector 1 was not that profitable for The LA Times, and that The Tribune is heavily in debt. With that information, I'm not surprised that there will not be "gavel to gavel" coverage of the retrial.

For those of you who have been wanting to see Spector 2, some coverage is better than nothing.

LA Observed



Anonymous said...


I just heard on Lonnie and Marta that Spector 2 would be covered. Had to come here for the confirmation!

You guys know all. Thanks for keeping us all informed. Holding my breath for the *GUILTY VERDICT*

Not to mention, hopefully the current OJ trial will have a guilty verdict of some sort.

Okay...I'm just dreaming. Just don't wake me up. And, I mean not wake me up. ;-)


zoz said...

Does anyone know why TruTV isn't covering the trial? Is there some other higher profile trial coming up at that time?

Sprocket said...

Hi zoz,

From my understanding it's because there isn't that much media interest in Spector 2 and because of the high cost of covering a long trial. No one really knows how long the trial will last this time around.

KTLA is not covering it gavel to gavel, just the beginning, maybe some testimony here and there, closings, verdict and sentencing.

For a major media organization, it's all about where do you invest your dollars for the most viewership? Our sources tell us TruTV/CNN will not be covering it. (That can always change from now until the start of the trial though, and I will continue to check with the public information office to see if any more news organizations have filed the appropriate paperwork.)

The petition to cover the trial was put up on the internet on September 18th. Since then it's only accumulated 147 signatures. I'm sorry to say but in a week's time, that number is not significant enough to sway a media organization to spend the bucks on covering the trial from gavel to gavel.

Now, if the petition has gathered like, say, 1,000 or 2,000 signatures in that same amount of time, then I think that would be a different story.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the update - Something is well better than nothing - interesting that "sentencing" was mentioned in the coverage request

Anonymous said...

sprocket - thanks so much for the update & this is the 1st i've heard of an on-line petition.

by any chance can you post the link to it? thanks for keeping us updated!


Anonymous said...

I'm willing to bet the majority of viewers of the last trial aren't active posters on message boards or actively keeping up with the latest information on the next trial. Where many of us that signed the petition or provided thoughts on pay per view have. So that majority of the past viewers are probably unaware of any efforts being made for coverage. Their interest will return when they begin to read or watch about it when the next trial begins.

Sprocket said...

henry, The link to the petition is in the prior story about trial coverage.

anon @ 7:06 am:
You said: "I'm willing to bet the majority of viewers of the last trial aren't active posters on message boards or actively keeping up with the latest information on the next trial."

You're statement implies (to me) that most of the viewers who watched the trial watched it on television. Is that what you meant? KTLA is not going to preempt their regular line-up to put this trial on television, every day, but they would live stream it like they are doing with O.J. And, TruTv/CNN has not made an application to cover the trial.

There is the possibility that TruTV/CNN could purchase a feed from KTLA, but if that's so, I've not heard any mention, of any announcement by TruTv/CNN that they are going to cover it.

Anonymous said...

wow, good news about KTLA. I'd even started my own blog so I could blog on the astrology of the trial (hi, sprocket--I'm the astrology student you helped with getting a birth time for Phil Spector several months ago). look forward to reading your blogposts on the trial.