For the media covering the inauguration of Barak Obama as the President of the United States, 20 January 2009 is a date with the history books.
A number of media organisations have lined up their staff for their call on duty, while cable networks ranging from BET, TV One, Al Jazeera and ESPN are offering live coverage of Obama's swearing-in ceremony.
MTV too will feature the inaugural coverage in the evening, though millions of people are expected to be glued to their screens from their workplaces this afternoon, which would make it the most widely seen inauguration in US history. Thus far, the record was held by Ronald Reagan's first inauguration on 20 January, 1981, with 42 million people viewing.
The networks are reported to have paid millions to ensure shared coverage, and more for camera angles, and high-definition equipment at prime locations on and around Capitol Hill.
Most of the coverage is sponsored, though advertising would not be intrusive duing regular programming. ABC's ceremony coverage, sponsored by Audi, would not include commercials, report said, while CNN too will become commercial-free at 11 am. MSNBC will suspend its commercial breaks around the noon swearing-in, but reports said it would carry a normal load of advertising later.
During the run up to the inauguration over the past few weeks, producers have been screened footage of past inaugurations, including Reagan's first in 1981, John F. Kennedy's in 1961, even the March 1933 swearing-in of Franklin D Roosevelt during the Great Depression. The first inauguration with sound film is that of Herbert Hoover in 1929.
Perfection is on every network's mind, given that it is an extraordinary event and each network would want to get it right.
However, the sheer number of events has complicated things for the networks, with coverage beaming almost continuously since the train carrying Obama and vice president-elect Joe Biden departed from Philadelphia.
Around three million spectators are expected to be on the Mall for the swearing-in. Security is reported to be much tighter than seen in a long time.
Wireless communications networks too are reported to have beefed up their networks around the Washington, DC area to ensure adequate capacities to cope with the barrage of expected text messages, photos and video as Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's first black president.
Reports quoted Nielsen Co.'s Roger Entner, head of telecom research, as saying that virtually anyone at Obama's address would want to transmit communication from the venue, which poses a genuine physics problem that wireless carriers are trying to do brace for, since networks can only carry a finite amount of signal, be it data or voice, before becoming overloaded and starting to bump callers, or flagging under mounting traffic.
However, disruptions, if any, are speculated to be around the DC area, and not to the wireless networks as a whole.