If I dropped a TV camera into a black hole, will it be destroyed before it reaches the event horizon?
I think so. I also think it will be destroyed before tidal forces have any effect.
If so, why?
Because it would otherwise end up falling faster than the speed of light.
Sounds strange I know, but take a look at the Shapiro delay: "the speed of a light wave depends on the strength of the gravitational potential along its path". Or see Professor Ned Wright's Deflection and Delay of Light: "in a very real sense, the delay experienced by light passing a massive object is responsible for the deflection of the light":
Alternatively see this PhysicsFAQ article by Don Koks: "this difference in speeds is precisely that referred to above by ceiling and floor observers". He's referring to the way Einstein said light curves because the speed of light varies with position. See the Einstein digital papers for examples of that. Here's one from 1920, see the second paragraph:
Light doesn't curve because spacetime is curved. Einstein never actually said that. It curves because the speed of light is lower at a lower altitude, rather like the way sonar waves curve:
As to why this isn't common knowledge, I don't know. There's this myth that Einstein gave up on a varying speed of light in 1911, but he didn't, see this Wikipedia article and this example from 1914. I don't know why the reason matter falls down isn't common knowledge either. You know about pair production and electron diffraction and the wave nature of matter, just think of an electron as a wave going round a closed path, then simplify it to a square path, like this:
The horizontals bend downwards, so the electron falls down. Could it be any simpler? Anyway, your TV camera falls down because the speed of light is reducing with altitude. We tend to call this the "coordinate" speed of light nowadays, even though Einstein just called it the speed of light. But regardless of what we call it, you don't have to be the Brain of Britain, or the Brain of France, to work out that half down, there's some kind of problem. At this point the camera will be falling as fast as the "coordinate" speed of light at that location. And it isn't going to slow down. Things always fall faster, not slower. But matter can't go faster than light, because of the wave nature of matter. When matter is made of waves, there is no way that matter can move faster than the speed of those waves.
So what's going to happen? I can see no other option: that wave has to break. Again it sounds strange, but take a look at an old version of the firewall article on Wikipedia. Follow the reference 7 link to Friedwardt Winterberg's Gamma-Ray Bursters and Lorentzian Relativity: "If the balance of forces holding together elementary particles is destroyed near the event horizon, all matter would be converted into zero rest mass particles which could explain the large energy release of gamma ray bursters". I think this is what happens to your TV camera. Flash! It turns into a gamma-ray burst. It would be like an atom bomb, but a lot more efficient. So make sure you drop it from a safe distance.