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Local TV affiliates are being abandoned by networks. With Murdoch station sell-off, they lost the last network head who cared 1/3/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Affiliates.

If the TV networks could send their programming directly into our homes without the involvement of local broadcasters they would. In a minute. That’s because local stations sell valuable advertising minutes that networks could sell themselves. So it is not surprising that the networks are now scrambling to make their programming available for download on the web, particularly given the emerging technologies from Microsoft, Apple, and others that transmit these downloads wirelessly from PC’s to TV’s. CBS’ Les Moonves clearly expressed the networks’ lack of commitment to their affiliates when he said “we feel the wave of the future is getting as much distribution as we can…we should be nonexclusive and get our content out there.” At a time when all media are relentlessly headed for convergence upon a single medium — the Internet — those are not exactly words an affiliate wants to hear.

Unfortunately, the last remaining network head who seemed to imagine a future life with local affiliates has issued a vote of “no confidence.” Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation seemed to have interest in incorporating Fox Broadcast outlets into an appendage of its national and international news operations, perhaps transforming them into newspaper-crushing, hyperlocal news outlets that also provided audiences with online portals to the rest of the News Corporation empire. Recent tell-tale signs were the centralized control and strong Fox branding of affiliates’ web sites, in sharp contrast to the other networks, and the addition of FoxHilites.com for high school sports. But News Corp’s sale of 8 of its 35 owned-and-operated Fox broadcast stations, reportedly in favor of Internet and cable investments, seems to place the kabosh on this possible direction. Local TV affiliates need to start planning now for lives as orphans, in a cold, cruel, wired world where fewer and fewer advertisers will stop to listen to their offer of “will broadcast for food.”


1. Walter Abbott - 1/3/08

If a program is telecast but no one watches, how would anyone know if it ever aired?

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