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December 22, 1987|JOHN VOLAND | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Robot cameras will begin replacing the regular human-run models on NBC's "Nightly News" with anchorman Tom Brokaw, in February, network officials announced Monday. In using the robotic cameras, the show's director working in a control booth will communicate orders to the camera by computer hookup, instead of orally relaying instructions to a human camera operator. Tom Wolzien, NBC vice president for editorial production services, said the robot cameras will eventually eliminate the equivalent of four employees but said no one will lose jobs because of the new cameras. Robot cameras could eventually save the company upwards of $1 million a year, Wolzien said. The National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians is not necessarily thrilled by the new cameras, but not surprised either. Said Calvin Siemer, vice president of the New York NABET local: "We've never opposed technological change. Our position is whatever the work is to be done after the technological change, we'll do that work." Carrie Biggs-Adams of the union's local in Burbank, said West Coast members aren't too concerned about the robots because they don't work on news shows.

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