s he took a rare break yesterday from the task of producing the coverage of Sail Boston 2000 for WCVB-TV (Channel 5) and the History Channel, Mark Mills declared it ''the most complicated day of television production in the history of Boston TV.''
Charles Kravetz, news director of New England Cable News, voiced a similar opinion later in the day. ''This may be the biggest technological challenge we've ever faced,'' said Kravetz.
The challenges ranged from the relatively minor, such as broadcasting through wind-whipped microphones, to the massive: transmitting signals from ship and shore via microwave, fiber-optic line, and satellite on a hectic day. There were also the tasks of finding the right ship for camera setups in the predawn darkness, transporting tons of equipment, and coordinating pool shots among several TV stations, not to mention familiarizing anchors and reporters with maritime lingo.
The parade of Tall Ships into Boston Harbor presented local broadcasters with opportunities for eye-catching footage, and - after planning for up to eight months - they made the most of it. However, there was also, perhaps inevitably, a certain sameness to the images of one impressive vessel after another over the course of eight hours.
To combat that sameness, the stations that devoted the most time to live coverage - Channel 5, Channel 4, and NECN - interspersed scores of pretaped pieces on everything from the history of shipbuilding to the activities of pirates.
WHDH-TV (Channel 7) devoted less than half the airtime to live coverage that its rivals did, prompting criticism from some who saw an inconsistency in the station that bills itself as ''the news station.'' Channel 7 general manager Michael Carson defended the station's coverage, saying it broadcast ''the heart of the event'' from midmorning to early afternoon, in addition to coverage on newscasts.
This story ran on page A20 of the Boston Globe on 7/12/2000.