Retired NAB General Counsel Jane Mago: “An old adage says that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. In the world of communications, I would posit a variation on that adage: Those who have lived through regulatory controversies are doomed to repeat them — forever. As one who has witnessed many regulatory controversies since 1978, I am one of the doomed. The current controversy over network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity provides a prime example.”
Creating an elegant interface that combines streaming services and pay TV services, so that Netflix and NBC both live on the same grid, would go a long way towards improving TV’s user experience. It would also benefit all parties, from networks and MVPDs to streaming services. But most of all, it would benefit the consumer.
Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, writes about her 65th birthday — and her refusal to accept that she’s past her prime. “For me, turning 65 doesn’t include walking away from my profession because of age; I love my job and the company I work for. It doesn’t include a makeover so people will see me differently, and it most certainly doesn’t include giving in to Father (or better, Mother) Time because that’s what I am supposed to do.”
Audience data indicate that two segments of the U.S. population will be hit especially hard by the upcoming FCC auction selling off television airwaves to wireless carriers: minorities, especially Latinos, and public television viewers. Where these two large groups of Americans overlap will be “ground zero” of this government-engineered shift from free, over-the-air television to a data plan near you.
Every TV newscaster in America had to do his or her job Wednesday, but it wasn’t easy. Most of us didn’t know Alison Parker or Adam Ward. But we all know someone like them.
There are plenty of steps newsrooms can take to safeguard their Facebook pages against hackers. Guest columnist Kim Wilson walks through the basics — including never sharing credentials or login information — and what to do if hackers still break through and hijack a news organization’s most important social platform.
The promise of the incentive auction was that volunteering broadcasters would be paid for the value of their spectrum. The duplex gap plan seems designed instead artificially to reduce the prices the FCC may have to pay in crowded and border markets. If the FCC is going to be the honest broker it claims to be in the upcoming auction, it should not be placing its finger on the scale.
“Keeping Up With Trump” could be the title of the continuing televised saga of Donald Trump’s run for the presidency. For the past two or three decades, this is a guy who has never exactly been invisible when it comes to drawing the attention of television cameras and news media. But the exposure he’s getting now is breathtaking.
My guess is that within three years, it will be normal for news organizations of even modest scale to be publishing to some combination of their own websites, a separate mobile app, Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, Snapchat, RSS, Facebook Video, Twitter Video, YouTube, Flipboard, and at least one or two major players yet to be named. The biggest publishers will be publishing to all of these simultaneously.
It will be easy this year to identify the biggest losers in the GOP debates. They will be the candidates who aren’t on the stage. With a record 17 prominent candidates vying for the Republican nomination (so far), no system for determining admission to the debate stage will please everyone. But the GOP can certainly do better than the statistically unsound procedures announced by Fox News and CNN.
Don’t wait until your best account executive gives notice to look for a replacement. Scouting for the best sellers in your market should be a regular part of your job so you know where they are when you need them. And don’t limit yourself to account execs at other stations. Great sellers are everywhere, maybe even in the local high school.
Digital media has rediscovered a very old business model. Make your customers pay.
Politicians campaign to win votes and collect contributions. So somebody who is unfettered by either of those concerns represents a bit of a wild card — and a reason why Donald Trump is sucking oxygen out of the Republican presidential race.
In an analysis of what the Big 4 network-owned station groups might get in the upcoming auction, Todd Jueneger, senior analyst for AB Bernstein, wrote that “our most optimistic estimate for CBS, Fox, and NBC (Comcast) is $1.3-$1.5 billion … far below what … some companies have said is possible.”
U.S. media practice a different policy when covering crimes involving white suspect and those involving African Americans and Muslims. Shooters of color are called “terrorists” and “thugs.” Why are white shooters called “mentally ill”?
Assuming everything reported about Brian Williams’ transgressions are true, it’s still important to keep this in perspective. While those grievous errors wouldn’t allow him to return to the anchor seat, it shouldn’t keep him from pursuing his life’s work — assuming he returns humbled and squares with his audience.
Now that we’re three seasons into “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” it appears that binge viewing has had its “moment.” When both of these series premiered on Netflix, what truly set them apart, aside from their nervy brilliance, was their presentation: You could watch as many hours as you wanted. But the reality is with a Netflix series, there is no shared experience, which, let’s face it, is one of the great pleasures of watching television. When we get to the climax of the story, we want to talk about it the day after. It’s a kind of celebration.
After avoiding the subject for much of its lifetime, television has begun featuring stories that include rape. And many people are not happy about it. Whether we like it or not, brutal and precisely detailed violence is being used to explore the human condition on television. Demanding an exemption for rape turns rape into something other than a violent crime and undermines all the work activists have done for years.
How did a man so fastidious screw up so magnificently? We give thanks for Brian Williams’ fall — not because we have anything against the broadcaster, but because from his disgrace can be distilled a medicine that, when taken as directed, will prevent others from a place in perdition.
Veteran TV journalist Mark Effron spells out the characteristics news directors should be looking for when adding to their anchor desks. Some of these attributes date back to Walter Cronkite, but others are as new as the latest social media app.
With their fancy radars and camera-toting daredevil storm chasers, it’s easy to dismiss local stations’ weather coverage as nothing more than a ratings ploy — especially if you’ve never lived in the middle of the country, where treacherous storms can explode out of nowhere. But TV meteorologists in tornado alley are more than just entertainment. They save lives.
The rise of social media has accelerated it to the point where it cannot be ignored. In fact, we’re at the place where it’s safe to say that for traditional media companies, online distribution is referral-driven. Broadcasters’ online strategies and tactics, therefore, need to be centered on this reality.
Well, they probably are. Journalists who complain about sources’ off-the-record insistence often evoke the same tact when they’re on the other side of the equation. They may know the news game, he writes, but it’s time to be as forthright and forthcoming as what they espouse for in others.
Daytime soaps once ruled the mainstream networks, but they have been replaced by the far cheaper marketplace of opinion, quizzes and judgment as handed down in very brown courtrooms. For over 12 hours, from the opening bell of the morning shows to the showbiz gossip shows after the evening news, this wonderland of banter, bitching and shiny bazaar is populated by sunny smiles and Botoxed brows as rich, cosseted presenters vie to reassure they are just like the moms and stay-at-homes watching them.
The word “porn” is about to become a lot more prevalent in the titles of TV shows. How do I know this? Because I have seen this before: A handful of shows begin turning up that have a word in common, and before you know it, there’s an avalanche of them.
Stacia L. Brown: “I never think about which TV networks or anchors I trust to break news to me in times of crisis, until I’ve been parked in front of the television for hours, scared to move or to break eye contact with the screen. I don’t realize it’s the anchor’s soothing voice or the on-the-ground reporter’s empathetic interviewing style that’s tethering me to their coverage, until I feel my heart rate steadying. So it didn’t immediately occur to me that I was favoring local news [stations], rather than cable ones, in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death and Baltimore’s ongoing response to it.”
Sean Cunningham, CEO of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau: “TV content fuels the growth engine of American business. It delivers the scale and immediacy that big brands can’t build without. Getting a clear picture on all TV viewing is critical to advertisers. The obstacle is a measurement industry that hasn’t evolved with viewers’ content commitment. Until we have an industry-accepted, single-source measurement for viewing across all platforms, there won’t be complete transparency in video, and the full range of connections won’t be usable for marketers.”
Ken Doctor: “Gannett CEO Gracia Martore and her investor relations people have been busy priming the sales pump of their new broadcast-digital company for several months. Now they’ve got a name of sorts to put on the new company — after its divestiture of its financially woeful publishing division — that’s among the top three in regional broadcasters, with a strong digital classifieds portfolio.”
Brian Nichols: “I’ve gone from two very different ends of the spectrum with Comcast over the last couple weeks, but one thing has remained consistent and that’s my belief that the acquisition of Time Warner Cable doesn’t really matter anymore. In essence, there’s just no need to spend the money and resources fighting regulators and lawyers on the deal; Comcast is better by itself.”
Dale Blasingame argues that TV newsrooms need to stop using Facebook as a platform for video teases of their stories, Rather, they should post a Facebook-specific video version of the story, along with some excised sound or a more personal recap from the reporter.
NAB CEO Gordon Smith: “A glimpse of the NAB Show floor demonstrates the unmatched resiliency of broadcasting. Even with a dizzying array of programming options now available to consumers, local radio and TV stations remain the preeminent platform for distributing content most valued by Americans. More than 240 million Americans listen to local radio each week, while 90 of the weekly top TV shows are on broadcast TV. And broadcasters are not resting on their laurels.”
This paradigm shift is the scalpel with which mass media — broadcasting, newspapers, and the institution of journalism — is administering its own death by a thousand cuts. Our very future depends on how we respond, so let’s begin at the beginning and ask ourselves, what problem does media solve? The answer is communications between humans. Media companies of all stripes must continue their efforts to find profit and relevancy in what is by now an evolved space.
TV viewing is changing, and so is TV advertising. Those changes will have a big impact on media buyers during this year’s upfront. Ratings for the broadcast networks have been on the decline for quite some time, but it’s become clear that people are not watching less video. Helen Giles, director of national broadcast and video integration at Lowe Campbell Ewald, talks about the shifting TV landscape, why TV advertising has hit a recent slowdown and whether there are any “must-have” broadcast shows left.
Karen Kaplan, chairman-CEO of Hill Holliday: “To say that the TV industry is undergoing a massive shift is a ridiculous understatement. The battle for eyeballs — and advertising dollars — is a drama worthy of Game of Thrones. The powerful, entrenched dynasties of TV’s past are fighting desperately to keep what was theirs. ‘You win or you die’ is just one of the great recurring catchphrases from the show. In honor of the season premiere, here are three other Game of Thrones truisms that apply to the changing TV landscape.”
The exit of Mad Men and reach of American Odyssey illustrate how high the bar has been set for TV in the past decade-plus. But with more shows to choose from, we’ve grown inured to programs that are just pretty good instead of golden.
During the final two months of last year’s election, television viewers in the tri-state Philadelphia area were barraged during news broadcasts with four times as much political advertising as actual news about the campaign. While Philly is a very distinctive place, there’s no reason to think this is a local phenomenon, an aberration. Experts say there’s little doubt the situation is the same throughout the country, and will be so in 2016, particularly in battleground states.
Plenty, says a top executive of One Media, one of the companies vying to become the national standard for next-generation digital TV. Broadcasters will finally be able to serve the enormous and growing population that watches programming on portable and mobile devices, bolstering its ad-supported business model. It will also open up new opportunities in targeted advertising and data distribution. Moving to the next-gen standard in conjunction with the repack of the TV band following the incentive auction must become part of our national policy.
If you are thinking about dropping your cable/satellite subscription — and really, who isn’t? — one of the necessary exercises is to figure out what network shows you will lose easy access to, and, significantly, how many of them you can get via subscription online video on demand outlets.
NBC’s decision to bring in a former NBC News chief, Andrew Lack, to stabilize a division that seems rudderless at the moment would appear to be a good one — at least on the surface.