Monday, October 30, 2006

China Stories Pt. 32: "They're shutting us down."

One of the more dramatic moments at CBS was when the government officials came in to shut down our satellite link.

We had had a satellite link-up which allowed us to beam live broadcasts back to the US for numerous CBS news shows - the morning and evening news shows, plus 60 Minutes, and CBS Sunday Morning.

One day a couple of bureaucrats showed up at our offices and informed us that they were shutting us down. I don't recall that there was any reason given. I do recall that CBS played it for all it was worth. CBS televised someone - I think it was Dan Rather - trying to bargain with the bureaucrats through an intepreter. But of course, there was no bargaining with bureaucrats. Then in dramatic fashion, we went off the air.

I imagine it looked pretty dramatic. In practice, all it meant was that now in order to get stories on the air, we had to courier videtapes out of the country, which was actually not very difficult.

Frequently, there were CBS people leaving the country anyway, and they would be asked to carry videotapes with them to Tokyo or Hong Kong. From there, the stories could be beamed back to the US.

If no one was leaving, they would send people like me to the airport, and we would find people willing to carry the tapes for us.

At one point, I remember that we sent some tapes out to Tokyo with a somewhat unlikely courier: the Cuban National Women's Volleyball Team.

("Hi, Frank, the tapes are on their way. Look for the group of six-foot-tall women wearing matching red track suits.")

2 Comments:

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Jesse said...

Nice story, and it was fun talking to you Saturday night.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Ish said...

Thank you! And likewise!

 

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