NBC News Pays Skydiving Crash Victims Six Figures For Video, Interviews

By Jordan Chariton Comment

As this mobile alert from NBC News shows, if you watch “NBC Nightly News” tonight you’ll see exclusive images from that midair collision of two skydiving planes in Wisconsin this weekend.

What you may not now is that NBC News paid “in excess” of $100,000 for those images, as well as video and interviews with those involved.

As part of their compensation, the crash survivors will appear on Tuesday’s “Today” show, be featured in a story on “Nightly News with Brian Williams” and be the subjects of a one-hour “Dateline” special.

The footage comes from several of the skydivers’ helmet cameras, says Mike Robinson, a skydiving instructor who survived the crash. Robinson tells the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi, “NBC has the exclusive right,” adding the survivors can do print and radio interviews, but no other TV interviews than on NBC for two weeks.

NBC wouldn’t confirm the figure, and pointed to the fact that other news organizations bid on the footage. Spokeswoman Ali Zelenko tells Farhi, “NBC News is proud to have this remarkable footage of human survival for use across all of our platforms. Our licensing of this footage is standard industry practice and is the result of a very competitive process with other major broadcast outlets.”

The paying for exclusive interviews under NBC News’s new president, Deborah Turness, seems to establish a trend of  making exceptions to strike ratings gold, as like other networks, NBC’s policy states they don’t pay for interviews. Competitor ABC says it bid on the video, but exited talks “as soon as it became clear that these interviews were tied directly to cash payments,” said ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider, adding, “Paying for interviews is a clear violation of our standards and ethics. We wanted to bid solely for the rights to the footage.”

The footage shows the planes engulfed in flames, and coming apart as the skydivers leapt out. Miraculously, there were no serious injuries.