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Jessell | Dividends Send Wrong Message About Broadcasting

Collectively, the five independent publicly traded TV station groups paid out more than $250 million in dividends last year. Those dollars and another $700 million in stock buybacks make investors happy, but they signal that the groups are more concerned with their short-term stock prices than in innnovation (ATSC 3.0) and the future viability of their principal offering (local news). Note: This story is available to TVNewsCheck Premium members only. If you would like to upgrade your free TVNewsCheck membership to Premium now, you can visit your Member Home Page, available when you log in at the very top right corner of the site or in the Stay Connected Box that appears in the right column of virtually every page on the site. If you don’t see Member Home, you will need to click Log In or Subscribe.

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Jessell | Social Media Documentary Misses The Mark

Netflix’s cautionary Social Dilemma overstates the data-driven power of Facebook, YouTube and others to engage users and effectively target advertising and it doesn’t address the real cause for concern — their enormous size and reach. Note: This story is available to TVNewsCheck Premium members only. If you would like to upgrade your free TVNewsCheck membership to Premium now, you can visit your Member Home Page, available when you log in at the very top right corner of the site or in the Stay Connected Box that appears in the right column of virtually every page on the site. If you don’t see Member Home, you will need to click Log In or Subscribe.

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Jessell | In ’21, Broadcasters Need New Revenue Ideas

As this year’s political windfall rolls into a lean recovery year, broadcasters should target Big Tech with a BMI-like model and look to innovations like Graham Media’s membership scheme for some much-needed revenue diversification.

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Jessell | Taking Stock Of Trump’s Media Legacy

President Trump has waged an aggressive, unending campaign against the mainstream media in his tenure, accelerating an erosion of trust and creating a fertile ground for conspiracy theories to flourish. Even after he leaves the White House next month, his influence on media likely won’t soon wane.

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Jessell | Under Biden, No Alarm Bells At FCC For Broadcasters

Broadcasters need not fret over much from a regime change at the FCC under President-Elect Biden. While further regulatory relief is unlikely and the UHF discount may disappear again, there may be a higher receptivity to affiliates’ call for extending their retransmission consent rights to virtual MVPDs.

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Jessell | Electronic Media At 100: Honoring The Architects

KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh had its inaugural broadcast 100 years ago today, catalyzing radio’s shift from hobby to mass medium and ushering in the other electronic media that followed. Driving the evolution forward were inventors, engineers, investors, entrepreneurs and business executives who’ve deservedly carved out a place in history.

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Jessell | ‘NewsNation’ Needs New Time, Bigger Budget

Nexstar’s new national newscast shows promise with its polish and presentation, but to really compete in the ratings it needs an earlier start time and more resources behind it.

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Jessell | Fox Isn’t For Sale, But Let’s Say It Is

Analyst Michael Nathanson last week suggested Fox Corp. sell off its broadcast assets, which are a drag on its bottom line. That prompts some guessing about who could bid — WarnerMedia? Sony? Amazon? — and the many reasons they are likelier to sit it out.

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Jessell | O’Rielly’s Firing Ominous Turn For FCC

President Trump’s withdrawal of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination isn’t just a breathtaking punishment for a perceived lack of loyalty. It presages a potential  Trump second-term FCC that would advance any of his desires and punish any FCC-regulated company he targets.

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Jessell | NBCU Dissed Its Affiliates With The ‘30 Rock Special’ Peacock Push

Harry Jessell: Affiliates with whom I spoke were clearly ticked off by last week’s show, with many preempting it. “Bone-headed,” said one. Compounding the insult of being asked to air an infomercial for a host of competitors was their feeling that that they had paid through their reverse comp for actual entertainment programming on Thursday night.

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Jessell At Large | Spot TV Faces An Unprecedented Moment

The coronavirus has caused massive collateral damage to the economy, taking down with it initially rosy predictions for spot advertising in 2020. But one bright spot on the horizon is that political dollars still will come, and broadcasters have the solace of diversified revenue thanks to retransmission consent to spare them an even crueler blow.

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Jessell | At First Glance, XFL 2.0 May Score On TV

Rule changes, mics on coaches and in the faces of players on the sidelines bring viewers a fresh perspective, creating an intimacy more akin to what you find in televised baseball, tennis or golf.

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Jessell | Cannabis A Potential Balm For Core Advertising

The cannabis business presents strong opportunities for broadcast’s core advertising, but it’s a legal and regulatory minefield. Still, there’s hope broadcasters can get a much-needed safe harbor to accept ads for properly vetted CBD and marijuana products via banking legislation in the Senate.

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Jessell | FCC Duop Inaction Hurting Station Owners

Gray Television’s deal to buy KDLT Sioux Fall, S.D., and create a precedent-setting affiliate duopoly in the market has been hung up at the FCC for 15 months without any explanation. For the sake of buyers and sellers, large and small, the FCC needs to act.

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Jessell | Court Should Quash Retrans-Killer Locast

How does Locast think it can get away with retransmitting broadcast signals to smartphones and smart TVs without compensating broadcasters? By claiming to be a nonprofit. But I expect that a federal judge will see through that fiction and find that it is nothing more than a front for Dish and AT&T’s DirecTV.

 

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Jessell | Is O’Donnell The Answer To CBS’s News Woes?

This evening, CBS will introduce Norah O’Donnell as the anchor of its evening news show in the hope that she can restore it to its former glory. I’m skeptical. It’s going to  take more that a new personality — even one as appealing as O’Donnell — to turn things around at CBS and, more important, to make the evening news genre relevant to the millions who have strayed away or who have never given it a chance.

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Jessell | Defending Sinclair (Somebody’s Got To Do It)

Last week, Senators and Democratic presidential nomination rivals Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker called on the DOJ and FCC to investigate Sinclair’s purchase of 21 regional sports networks from Disney. Why single out Sinclair? Because they don’t like Sinclair’s right-wing, pro-Trump politics. And another thing, it’s hard to see how the FCC can single out Sinclair for doing something (circumventing ownership limits) that many other broadcasters have done with impunity.

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Jessell | New Kidvid Rules Like Old Kidvid Rules: Pointless

Last week, the FCC proposed new children’s TV rules, giving broadcasters much greater flexibility in meeting their quota (three hours a week on average). But the new rules, like the old ones they will replace, will not make our kids smarter. They will only salve the consciences of policymakers who feel they need to do something for children by making broadcasters do something to show they are “paying” for their spectrum.

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Jessell | Do Broadcasters Deserve A Bit Of C-Band Gold?

As owners of earth stations, broadcasters may be able to cut themselves in for a portion of the billions that satellite operators hope to get from the sale of some of their C-band spectrum to 5G wireless carriers. But I’d rather see the taxpayers get the excess proceeds.

KNBC Names Renee Washington VP Of News

The NBC Los Angeles O&O promotes the 20-year TV news veteran from assistant news director.

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Jessell | Broadcast Nets Still Power Ad Marketplace

As cable and streaming options continue to win a greater share of advertiser budgets, the broadcast networks are far from done. They showed last week that they are still major players, still the favorite of the big mass advertisers, the people who throw around billions. It won’t always be that way.

Fox News Anchors Shut Down Conspiracy Theories About Notre Dame Fire

Fox News To Hold Iowa Town Hall

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Jessell | The Ergen-Locast Link And Other Vital Matters

A smorgasbord of topics this week: (1) I don’t know it for a fact, but I know that it’s true that Charlie Ergen is the money behind Locast, the OTT service that is streaming local broadcast signals. (2) Retrans is also under attack from STELAR, the law that empowers satellite operators to import distant signals of network O&Os into areas where subscribers cannot receive local affiliates off air and is up for renewal. (3) With the emergence of the new Fox Corp. this week, a forecast finds that most of its broadcast fee growth will come from reverse comp. (4) A tip of the hat to FCC Comish Michael O’Rielly for taking on the Justice Department, which has been stepping on the FCC’s turf regarding local TV ownership rules.

DMA 5: DALLAS

‘Daybreak’ Mainstay Ron Corning Leaving WFAA

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Jessell | Satellite TV’s Orbit Is Failing Fast

Both DirecTV and long-time rival Dish Network have recently reported fourth quarter 2018 operating results and the numbers are not good. The satellite operators are suffering from the same problem as cable operators are — the proliferation of broadband OTT services. None of this is good news for broadcasters since the slow migration of subs from cable and satellite to OTT will likely suppress retrans revenue growth.

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Jessell | Who Put The DOJ In Charge of Broadcast Regs?

Lately, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice headed by Makan Delrahim has been undermining the FCC — and perhaps even Congress — and disrupting the broadcasting business as it struggles to ward off rivals for viewers and ad dollars on multiple fronts. I cannot remember a time when Justice has plunged so deeply into the nitty gritty of the broadcasting advertising marketplace and what kind of local station combinations should be allowed.

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Jessell | Daytime TV’s Not-So-Secret Shame

I look at broadcast TV’s schedules and I see a lot of junk cluttering up the grids. I mean lousy shows that may make money, but that drag down the overall broadcast day and make the station and the industry looked seedy and desperate. Stations need to clear out the junk and make room for other programs that draw viewers and make money without sacrificing respectability, and they can start with NBCU’s unholy trinity of Springer, Maury and Wilkos.

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Jessell | For Broadcasters, CES Points To ATSC 3.0

At CES last week, UltraHD displays, cars as entertainment centers and datacasting looked like real opportunities and the new broadcast standard is just the thing to exploit them.

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Jessell | Let’s Make The Partial FCC Shutdown Permanent

Eventually, Congress or the White House is going to cave and the FCC will be back to its old self. That’s too bad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the shutdown of some pointless and counterproductive broadcast regulations were permanent?