City budget cuts tackle TV coverage of the 75th Annual East LA Classic

Next month’s 75th Annual East LA Classic will once again find more than 20,000 crazed fans descending on East Los Angeles College to watch the annual face off between the Garfield and Roosevelt high school football teams. But there will be one team missing from the Weingart Stadium field: a crew of about 15 camera operators, technicians and announcers that have produced a full-length program of the game for more than a decade. The recording of the Nov. 6 game was scrapped after city-funded Channel 36, which produced and broadcast the game, suffered deep budget cuts. The idea that there would be no post-game broadcast of the 75th anniversary match stunned East Los Angeles resident Gabe Carmona, an independent producer who helps organize the game. “I found out about it two weeks ago,” said Carmona, who produced a documentary on the legendary rivalry. “The schools were disappointed but there is nothing really anybody could do.” So, Carmona has stepped in to try and fill the void.

Watching the East LA Classic on TV after the game was played (the schools have opposed a real time broadcast of the match) had become a tradition among many high school football fans, Carmona said. There seems to be a lot of demand to watch the games even on a delayed basis: a YouTube clip of Carmona’s documentary has been viewed more than 125,000 times. Channel 36 had been covering the event since the 1990s, and Carmona said other stations, including Spanish-language television, had sent out crews a decade earlier to record the entire game. Channel 36 station president Carla Carlini said the loss of city grand money forced her to layoff 70% of the staff in recent weeks and halt the production of original programming, which includes coverage of numerous community events. Carlini said the station’s funding crises might be resolved soon but not before the Nov. 6 football game.

Despite strong interest in the East LA Classic broadcast, neither Garfield or Roosevelt had the money or time to come up with the estimated $25,000 that it would take to shoot and produce the show, Carmona said. (The Eastsider is seeking comment from both schools.)

Now, Carmona, in between his job as a producer and organizing press events for the game, is trying to raise an estimated $7,500 to record and produce a football program with a much smaller crew. The goal is to have a show ready for broadcast on Channel 36 the day after the game as well as to have DVDs available for sale. Carmona said he’s very close to securing sponsors for the funding and hopes to get things finalized later this week.

“It’s definitely challenging” said Carmona. But, “it would be shame if it were not recorded.”

Top photo from Wikipedia;bottom photo from Garfield High

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