TVN Webinar Dives Deep Into Automating Spot TV Buying And Selling

Executives from Tegna, Sinclair, NBCU stations and Hearst will evaluate the industry’s progress towards automating key elements of the spot TV buying and selling process in a TVNewsCheck Working Lunch webinar on May 19. Register here.

Broadcasters and technology partners have been working to automate key parts of the spot TV buying and selling process. “Automation & Spot TV,” a TVNewsCheck Working Lunch webinar, will gauge how much progress has been made on that goal on May 19 at 1 p.m. ET.

The webinar will feature sales and technology executives from Tegna, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, NBCU Owned Television Stations and Hearst Television. They’ll address how they are doing at automating audience estimates, in-flight reconciliation, and other key tasks. The webinar will also evaluate how the buy-side is doing at automating RFPs, in-flight reconciliation and other key parts of the media planning and buying process.

“Broadcasters face a steep challenge as they try to automate some of the busy work out of the complicated spot TV marketplace,” said Kathy Haley, co-founder and publisher of TVNewsCheck. “This webinar assembles industry leaders to talk about progress they are making at building an end-to-end software pipeline for transacting with their agency partners, but also how they are automating key parts of the sales process along the way.”


Frank Comerford

Frank Comerford, CRO and president of commercial operations, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations — He oversees all commercial efforts for the division’s 42 NBC and Telemundo television stations, regional news network, NECN, two national multicast networks (Cozi TV and TeleXitos), online properties and digital out-of-home platforms. In addition, he oversees national sales efforts for six of the company’s regional sports networks. Comerford is also responsible for developing new partnerships and business ventures that align the group’s growth with the needs of its clients.


He has worked in the television industry for more than 30 years, including over 20 years with NBCUniversal. Before assuming his current role in October 2013, he was the CRO of the NBC Owned Television Stations for five years. Previously, Comerford was president and general manager of NBC’s flagship station, WNBC New York, beginning in 2002. During his tenure, he oversaw the station’s conversion to high definition, expanded its community partnerships and increased locally produced content. Comerford was also instrumental in bringing LX.TV, a lifestyle program production company, to the NBC family.

Prior to his role at WNBC, Comerford was EVP of sales and marketing for the NBC Owned Stations from 1999 through 2002. He joined NBCUniversal in 1994 and held various positions of increasing responsibility within the sales group, culminating with his 1996 promotion to VP of sales for WNBC. Before joining NBC, he was with WSBK Boston from 1986 until 1994, serving in several different sales management positions. He began his career in the television industry in 1981 with Storer Television Sales in New York City.

Comerford holds a B.S. in business administration and finance from Georgetown University.

Al Lustgarten

Al Lustgarten, SVP, technology and information services, Hearst Television — He has served in his current position since 2020, was previously the company’s vice president, technology and information services and, before that, manager of information services.

Lustgarten oversees the company’s technology function and leads its advertising operations. He provides strategic leadership for many of the company’s new-technology initiatives, including AI, ML and analytics efforts. He has played a key role in overseeing Hearst Television’s cloud transformation and leads all aspects of its security program. Lustgarten also has operational oversight of the company’s capital spending and fleet programs.

Prior to Hearst Television, Lustgarten held several finance, accounting and technology positions within Hearst Corp. He first joined the company in 1981, in the Hearst Magazines accounting and finance department.

Lustgarten serves on numerous industry boards and vendor committees, representing the interests of Hearst Television’s technology, security and advertising operations. A key company focus is on promoting open industry standards with the goal of streamlining the sales process.

Lustgarten received his undergraduate degree from the University of Hartford and holds a master’s degree in business from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Kurt Rao

Kurt Rao, SVP and CTO, Tegna — He is charged with working across Tegna to drive the development and implementation of the company’s next-generation client and customer technology solutions in the areas of content, advertising, data and insights and media distribution.

Previously, Rao was chief information and technology officer for Time Inc., where he led the transformation and growth of the media publishing organization into a digital content platform company. In addition, he optimized technology operations across the organization and built platforms to support content across video and digital while enhancing consumer data analytics.

Rob Weisbord

Rob Weisbord, president of broadcast, CRO, Sinclair Broadcast Group — He is responsible for operations across the company’s hundreds of television stations, overseeing local broadcast operations, national sales, audience network sales and digital sales and operations.

Weisbord also focuses on advanced revenue solutions and analytics, as well as exploring strategic partnerships and potential related acquisitions. Weisbord most recently served as chief revenue officer for Sinclair, responsible for developing, executing and leading sales and revenue growth strategies and initiatives for broadcasting, digital, advanced revenue and all network sales.

His previous roles with Sinclair include COO of Sinclair Digital Group from January 2014, and VP of new media from June 2010 to January 2014. From 2008 to June 2010, he was Sinclair’s director of digital interactive marketing. From 1997, he held various management positions for the company including regional group manager, GM of the company’s Las Vegas duopoly of KVMY-KVCW and director of sales.

Prior to that and from 1993, he was national sales manager for WTVT Tampa, Fla. Weisbord began his broadcasting career in the radio industry with Family Group Broadcasting in 1985. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Tampa.

Archie Gianunzio

Archie Gianunzio, SVP sales, Furious Corp. — He has been in the television ad sales game since 1995 when he started his career at Cox-owned TeleRep. He spent the next 20 years in local sales, working with every major broadcaster and made his way through the ranks to vice president/director of sales of what was by then Cox Reps. In 2015, Gianunzio left the rep side of things to head up sales and marketing at Videa, a Cox-owned television sales automation platform. Then in September 2020, he became SVP of sales at Furious Corp, a yield optimization platform that uses data and the power of data science to help broadcasters maximize revenue.

Michelle Clayton

Michelle Clayton, chief client officer, PremiumMedia360 — As a strategic account management leader within the advertising technology sector, she has 20-plus years’ experience managing client relationships with top 10 global ad agencies such as Publicis, IPG, Havas and Dentsu Aegis. During her 18 years at Mediaocean, Clayton managed several client services teams for their largest agency clients. She and her teams were responsible for managing the overall health and retention of accounts, collaborating with C-suite to mid-level management clients on strategic account plans and coordinating across departments for successful execution. Clayton has an in-depth knowledge of both digital and traditional media and works consultatively with clients to drive adoption of software solution.

The webinar will be moderated by Janet Stilson, TVNewsCheck contributing editor.

To register for TVNewsCheck’s Working Lunch webinar “Automation & Spot TV,” click here.

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