Miami Stations Work Hard to Cover President’s Cuba Trip

By Kevin Eck 

All of Miami’s English language affiliated stations are in Havana to cover President Obama’s trip to Cuba, the first by a U.S. president in nearly a century.

The Miami Herald reports the Miami stations have become experts at how to get things done in a country that was once a communist stronghold.

“It’s like working in any other foreign country — except there’s no Radio Shack or Walgreens,” WFOR anchor Eliott Rodriguez told The Herald. “When something breaks down, like batteries, or you need cables, it’s really difficult.”

To bring everything from Miami, stations fill out form after form, often weeks in advance, to comply with government regulations. Cuba is especially sensitive to wireless microphones — standard TV hardware — presumably for fear they might be misused for spying. Satellite phones are similarly frowned on.

Most news crews are forced to rely on CNN and the Associated Press — the two news agencies with the biggest, permanent Havana footprint — to book time on their government-approved satellites. Local 10 shot Sunday from the Plaza de la Revolución, the site of AP’s video tent.

The cost is exorbitant. None of the stations divulged its Cuba travel budgets. But a single live shot from Havana, just in terms of satellite expense, might cost 20 times more than it does in the U.S. Obama’s visit could comprise 50 live shots.