OPEN MIKE

A Path To 5G That Makes Sense

The C-Band Alliance’s voluntary, market-based plan to clear 200 MHz for 5G wireless while fully protecting the TV and other current C-band customers. This should be a “no brainer” — private companies using their own capital to clear voluntarily the mid-band spectrum necessary to bring 5G to all Americans and to stay even with China in the race to 5G while protecting existing customers.

OPEN MIKE

Broadcasters & 5G: We’re Part Of The Solution

ONE Media’s Jerald Fritz: “Using the great big IP data pipe that is a Next Gen TV channel, broadcasters will have the flexibility to provide traditional linear TV entertainment and informational programming to both fixed and mobile devices. Plus, they can use their channels for complementary 5G services.”

OPEN MIKE

FTP No Option, Even For Small Media Companies

Signiant’s Megan Cater: Cybersecurity experts have long been warning of FTP’s potential threat to network security, intellectual property and privacy. Most major media enterprises have banned FTP, requiring that all partners use secure accelerated file transfer solutions. Smaller operations should follow their lead.

 

OPEN MIKE

Sports Leagues Must Act Now To Tackle Piracy

Simon Trudelle, NAGRA senior director, product marketing: “The solution is driven by a combination of technology, collaboration, and innovation to fight pirate services across all distribution networks. Sports leagues must partner with vendors and service providers, as well as providing their own OTT services if not already the case, to ensure all fans get the best experience possible, anywhere.”

OPEN MIKE BY LAURIE KAHN

Rethink The Old Pay Plan For New Sales Hires

The days of 100% commission with a 90-day guarantee for new hires are long gone. To attract the best sellers, you must offer a compensation plan that offers more security — that is, a plan that includes longer guarantees so that the hire has more time to develop business. And you have to commit fully to training.

OPEN MIKE BY MARK EFFRON

What ‘Watching’ Means To College Students?

TV-news-exec-turned-college-professor Mark Effron asked his students what media they used in the past 24 hours. You can imagine what was on the list. Media consumed: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, movies and series on Netflix, Google and an occasional news site like CNN.com. Devices: Smartphones (overwhelmingly), tablets, some laptops, an occasional Xbox. Missing in action: television.

OPEN MIKE BY JACK GOODMAN

FCC Duplex Plan Bad News For Broadcasters

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.

OPEN MIKE BY LAURIE KAHN

Search For Sales Talent Should Never Stop

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.

OPEN MIKE BY PETER TANNENWALD

Ins and Outs of Post-Auction Channel Sharing

So you want to sell spectrum in the incentive auction, but still remain in the business. The FCC has made that option available by allowing you to contract with another broadcaster to double up on a channel. But the rules of channel sharing are complex and still not settled. Here’s the latest.

 

OPEN MIKE BY MARK EFFRON

Tip For Williams Watchers: Take A Breath

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.

OPEN MIKE BY MARK EFFRON

8 Characteristics Of Exceptional TV Anchors

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.

OPEN MIKE BY TERRY HEATON

Stations: Encourage Web Viewers To Return

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.

OPEN MIKE BY JOEL MYERS

Local TV, Digital An Unbeatable Combination

The new digital-savvy audience with smartphones and tablets is expecting big changes from TV stations, their leading and most trusted news source. It’s up to broadcasters to meet those expectations by integrating into their newscasts social media, real-time polling, user-generated content, street-level traffic and weather and hyper-local crime reporting.

OPEN MIKE BY JERRY FRITZ

Next-Gen Broadcasting: What’s In It For You?

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.

OPEN MIKE FROM GEIR BRYN-JENSEN

Remote Production Can Revolutionize Live TV

Nevion CEO Geir Bryn-Jensen: “Viewers today eat up live programming of all types. Live programming — with its potential for enrichment and analysis — is also a powerful asset for broadcasters against the encroachment of OTT services. The ability to cover news live, cost effectively and with the highest quality is more significant than ever for today’s newsroom. Remote production is now a practical, deliverable, proven proposition, enabled by the ability to transport multiple signals, either uncompressed or with gentle mezzanine compression, over a range of fabrics, at very low latencies.”

OPEN MIKE BY MARK EFFRON

How To Build A Successful News Operation

Many factors contribute to success at local news operations. Each of my positions over the years afforded me the opportunity to look at content and presentation and distribution through a changing series of lenses. This period also coincided with the tsunami disruptions to mainstream media, especially the birth and growth of social. Here’s a baker’s dozen of suggestions gleaned from life lessons over the years.

OPEN MIKE BY MATTHEW POLKA

TV Stations Flip-Flop On Consumer Choice

American Cable Association President Matthew Polka: “The arrival of CBS All Access means at least two positive developments: The forces in favor of consumer choice have won the debate and critics like TVFreedom need to find a new agenda because it is impossible for broadcasters to explain how it’s possible to be ‘just a little a la carte.’ “

OPEN MIKE FROM GREGG SKALL

3rd-Party Issue Ads A Billion-Dollar Question

We are only weeks away from the 2014 mid-term election. In an election year, I always get a lot of questions about FCC political ad rules, and they come at an ever more furious pace as we get closer to election day. Typically, they run the gamut of political broadcasting issues. This cycle, however, the hands-down winner is how to handle third-party issue ads.

OPEN MIKE BY TODD BARKES

Managing Ads Tough In Omniplatform World

But a more sophisticated software platform can make life much easier for agencies and media. It affords better workflow management of the content, ensures quality control checks of the various formats, reduces manual mistakes and saves time.

OPEN MIKE BY JACK GOODMAN

Local Choice Retrans: Look Before You Leap

Sens. Rockefeller and Thune’s “Local Choice” retrans reform proposal allowing the à la carte sale of channels to cable and MVPD customers would affect consumers, broadcasters, MVPDs and cable program suppliers and policy makers. Here’s how.

OPEN MIKE BY STEVE SCHWAID

Viewer Safety Or Soccer? That’s A No-Brainer

Every GM and news director I know who oversees a local newsroom has taken severe weather very seriously. We spend millions of dollars on early warning equipment, radars and other software to make sure we can get the information on the air as quickly as possible. We are local broadcasters. We are the only source of instantaneous information showing the storm, explaining where it is heading and what viewers need to know right now to protect themselves.  This is what a local TV station does. It focuses on your community. Your home.

OPEN MIKE BY ED GREBOW

NAB Show Floor Reflects Changing Industry

Along with a growing number of companies serving the TV industry, there has been a change in technology leadership. Both computer companies and smaller U. S. entries commanded growing positions. This is a direct byproduct of the shift from hardware to software as the dominant factor. There was still plenty of hardware for sale in Las Vegas, but most of the buzz was about the cloud, collaboration, workflow, streaming, social media, software tools and solutions.

OPEN MIKE BY KEN ZAMKOW

How To Beat Mobile Bandwidth Overload

Congestion on a cellular network can pose a challenge to media organizations, as live video transmission from overcrowded areas may experience interruptions. On top of traffic issues, the physical terrain of the streaming location may also affect cellular connectivity, including distance to cell towers, and physical barriers between the cellular devices and the towers such as walls, buildings and natural terrain. However, there are several tools that can be used to help guarantee a stable signal.

OPEN MIKE FROM ROBERT GESSNER

Programming Costs Drive Cable Bills Higher

Robert Gessner, president of MCTV: “When you consider how the costs of a cable TV network and basic cable TV programming have changed, it is clear that the network cost has increased by slightly less than the rate of inflation and programming cost has increased by about five times inflation.”

OPEN MIKE BY DJ CAVANAUGH

Analytics Can Drive Spot Sales Improvement

When used properly, certain analytics can help stations make smarter and more accurate selling decisions, providing insights necessary to identify sales opportunities. Here are three key analytics that give you the advantage to sell more.

OPEN MIKE FROM GREG DEPREZ

Mining The Gold In Your Videotape Archives

If your station has rows and racks and piles of old  videotapes, you have a storage expense that you can turn into an asset. The reasons to digitize archived news videotape are based on value, the score that businesses use in deciding to act. So where’s the potential value in digitizing the videotape library? There are at least eight great reasons, including providing valuable legacy content for both on air and online.

OPEN LETTER TO TWENTIETH TELEVISION

Cable Marathons Wrecking ‘Modern Family’

Ted Stephens, VP-GM of KCWI-KDMI Des Moines-Ames, Iowa, to Twentieth Television: “As a broadcaster I am incensed by how you sold our industry down the river. The double standard you demonstrated in the terms of the syndication rights to Modern Family for cable and broadcasting is nothing short of unethical.”

OPEN MIKE BY TED FARAONE

GLAAD Goofed With Its ‘Duck’ Call

Phil Robertson’s religious beliefs are of no interest to me or to a great many other Americans, I should think. I have no idea why GQ magazine, which is aimed at fashionable men, took an interest in a scruffy guy with a beard. Now, however, the host of A&E’s Duck Dynasty has become a rallying point for those who oppose the aims of GLAAD, after the civil rights group called attention to his anti-gay remarks in the magazine. Great. That’s just what gay rights need, a popular spokesman for homophobia. If GLAAD had not called attention to Robertson’s GQ interview, it probably would have got all the attention it deserves, which is to say almost none.

OPEN MIKE BY KENNETH ROBINSON

Sizing Up Wheeler By The Folks He’s Hired

The newly appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has pieced together a top staff that comprises three “blue-ribbon, card-carrying members of the FCC club” and two “true believers” who seem to become more liberal and interventionist the older they get.

OPEN MIKE BY GREGG SKALL

Reefer Madness: Controversial Ad Issues

While marijuana advertising might be acceptable and entirely legal under local state law, accepting such advertising presents substantial risk to a station. The rules have not been tested and further guidance from the Justice Department is important before broadcasters begin to accept this advertising.

OPEN MIKE BY TIM DANIEL

Finding The Glue To Make Local TV Stick

With all the recent mergers and acquisitions among TV station group owners, the question is no longer whether or not there will be a small group of local TV empires. The question is which ones will succeed and which ones will fail? Empires that succeed and endure have created the best “social glue” and it turns out home-grown glue is the best.  And nobody does local better than local television broadcasters.

OPEN MIKE BY BRIAN FREDERICK

NAB Breaks Out Tin Foil Hats In Retrans Fight

Porter Novelli’s Brian Frederick: The NAB’s charges [that the vast majority of retrans blackouts involve DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable] are ludicrous, as anyone with even a basic understanding of how business works can attest. There is nothing more frustrating for TV consumers than blackouts so it’s absurd to think that pay TV distributors would intentionally upset their customers and risk losing them. As long as distributors are prohibited from importing a distant network signal and broadcasters can drop signals on cable and satellite, broadcasters can demand whatever they want for a local signal, knowing that most viewers primarily just care about network programming anyway.”

OPEN MIKE BY GREGG P. SKALL

Avoiding The Pitfalls Of Broadcast Internships

Notwithstanding the fact that internships are promoted heavily under FCC policy for its EEO program, it is also becoming dangerous to have an unpaid internship program without a thorough understanding of the law and creating important legal safeguards. While it might be an opportunity to provide training for prospective employees, it also might expose a company to liability for unpaid wages and overtime. Here’s some advice and helpful hints.

OPEN MIKE BY JOHN HANNON

Don’t Miss Out On Auto’s Ad Shift To Digital

As a sales manager, do you know what steps you need to incorporate now to make sure that your sales pros are properly positioned to take advantage of the advertising shift to digital products? The answer lies in four categories: people, knowledge, products and return on investment.

OPEN MIKE BY ROBERT ROSE

This Is No Time To Take The Weekends Off

On Saturday and Sundays, many TV stations are sticking to the script of network sports, news and public affairs, repeats of weekday programs and paid programming — way too much paid programming. It isn’t offering anything to viewers or long-term prospects. But if you’re smart, you can use weekends to broaden appeal and differentiate yourself from the pack.

OPEN MIKE BY RANDY BENNETT

Newspapers: A Cautionary Tale For Local TV

The parallels between TV stations today and newspapers in 2005 should be heeded by local TV executives. The trends are equally troubling and there is much they can learn from newspapers’ experience and response. Clearly, audience and advertisers are moving to digital platforms.  But TV stations confront the same challenges as newspapers: digital is returning significantly less revenue than the core product and advertisers don’t yet know how to effectively buy across media channels.

OPEN MIKE BY JOHN HANE

Ownership Limits Shackle Local Broadcasting

Communications attorney John Hane: “Unless it can find a way to make all of the other players in the television industry smaller, the FCC should throw off archaic broadcast ownership regulations that skew the market against the only television service that is free to Americans who don’t want to pay.”

OPEN MIKE BY LEE SPIECKERMAN

How Stations Can Kill Aereo And AutoHop

Broadcasters have an alternative to converting over-the-air networks to cable channels to thwart Barry Diller’s Aereo and Charlie Ergen’s AutoHop Dish DVR: the “Dual Stream Strategy.” Each TV station would feed a new, modified visual format of programming to their transmitters for OTA reception. This would consist of a station’s programming lineup in a reduced-size video window, surrounded by continuous weather, news and community information graphics and visual ads. The second stream would consist of the core programming full-screen, just as it is now, for MVPDs with retrans deals.

OPEN MIKE BY HANK PRICE

Making The Strong Case For Local TV News

In response to last week’s commentary by Ed Rabel critical of local TV news, the president-GM of WXII Greensboro/Winston-Salem, N.C., rebuts: “We live in a new golden age of over-the-air television. Leading stations with strong newscasts find themselves offering more services to more people than ever before.”

OPEN MIKE BY JOHN HANE

Next TV Standard Must Be Truly Universal

What if you could buy a 50-inch television, mount it anywhere in your house, and receive dozens of channels on it for free and without any futzing around? What if most or all broadcast signals, in their native form, were easily receivable on tablets and smartphones?