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Inauguration Day - Millions will watch the coverage live on the BBC and Sky News

20th January 2009

Barack Obama's inauguration is set to go down in TV history. The swearing-in of the 44th US president is expected to draw a global audience to rival the ratings for TV's biggest live events and most popular shows.

40 years ago 600 million, a fifth of the world's then population tuned in to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. The worlwide TV audience for the coverage of the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales was belived to be 2.5 billion.

The scheduling of the Inauguration on a weekday is a disadvantage for the ratings, however the benefit of being sworn in at noon local time, means that in Europe live coverage will be broadcast from late afternoon to early evening. In Britain live coverage runs from 4pm - 6pm on BBC1 and Sky News, with high definition pictures and sound available on the BBC HD channel and Sky Arts HD. The coverage will also be streamed simultaneously on the BBC News and Sky News websites.

The BBC has sent 60 staff over to the US to coiver the event. Huw Edwards and Matt Frei will anchor the live coverage, and Jeremy Paxman will present an extended version of Newsnight, tonight on BBC2 at 10.30pm.   

On Radio 4 Eddie Mair will present an extended PM from 4.30pm with reports from James Naughtie and Hugh Sykes. Later on Radio 4, The World Tonight at 10pm will be presented by Robin Lustig from Alabama. on Radio 5 Live, the Live Drive Programme is presented by Anita Anand in Washington from 4pm.

The Timetable (all times GMT)

1pm Gates to the Inaugural Ceremony open, Obama attends a church service.

3.30pm Senator Dianne Feinstein provides call to order and welcome; Invocation by the Rev Rick Warren; Aretha Franklin performs.

4.30pm Vice president-elect Joe Biden sworn into office.

5pm Obama takes the Oath of Office using President Lincoln's Inaugural Bible.

5.05pm Obama gives address. Poem by Elixabeth Alexander.

6pm Obama escorts outgoing President George Bush to a departure ceremony, then attends a luncheon in the Capitol.

7.30pm The 56th Inaugural Parade sets off down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.

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