ABC’s Niagara Falls Wallenda Stunt Will be on a Delay

By Chris Ariens 

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When Nik Wallenda, of the famous flying and tight rope-walking Wallendas, makes his way above Niagara Falls next month, what you see on TV will be on a slight delay. In a story in today’s New York Times, ABC says it will put the walk on a delay, just in case:

ABC television plans to broadcast the walk in a three-hour special, but also plans a 5- to 10-second delay, just in case. “We want it to be exciting and thrilling, but we also want every parent in America to hear loud and clear that we’re going to make it comfortable for them to watch with their kids,” said Jeffrey Schneider, an ABC spokesman.

ABC News and Wallenda, a 7th-generation daredevil, came to an agreement last week on broadcasting the walk on June 15. “It’s a return to some of the great events you’ve seen on television over the years,” Schneider told the AP. “I think back to my own childhood and Evel Knievel where literally the whole country would gather around the set and watch one of these extraordinary stunts.”

Media analyst and Syracuse professor Robert Thompson says the element of danger — Wallenda will be untethered, walking without a net — becomes an issue of media ethics. “They’re planning a show where one of the pre-production activities is making sure everyone knows what happens in case this guy dies. The real tension here is not will he get from one side to the other, the tension is will he make it across without dying, and I think there are some real serious ethical issues.”