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The inauguration pre-game goes to the highest bidder, Time Warner/HBO:

NEW YORK — HBO will kick off coverage of Inauguration Week with an exclusive Sunday, Jan. 18, telecast of the star-studded opening ceremony, two days before the saturation coverage of President Barack Obama’s inauguration begins in earnest.

In 1993, HBO paid $1.5 million to the Presidential Inaugural Committee to exclusively televise Bill Clinton’s kickoff from the Lincoln Memorial, something that annoyed non-HBO subscribers who weren’t able to watch the concert by Bob Dylan and Diana Ross.

This time around, HBO — which has been awarded the rights for an undisclosed sum — is planning to offer the event free to cable and satellite subscribers, regardless of whether they have the pay channel or not. The entertainment lineup for the event, which may also be streamed, hasn’t yet been announced, but both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to attend.

“(HBO’s) proven track record as a leader in television will help ensure an event that reflects President-elect Obama’s commitment to holding an inauguration that is open, accessible and reflects America’s spirit of unity,” inaugural committee executive director Emmett S. Beliveau said.

Maybe E! will do one of their pre-shows, too, where Joan Rivers makes fun of everyone’s clothes on the red carpet.



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