TV Stations Want Their Own Revolutionary Programming Changes

Think TV stations are desperately worried about losing precious network shows? Maybe not so much.

NBC's big Boston affiliate, WHDH-TV, doesn't believe the network's new 10 p.m. Jay Leno talk show will work. Maybe station execs are pissed there'll be less traditional scripted TV dramas on the network.

No matter. Just like that, execs say the station will air its own local news.

For some time now, NBC Universal has said it needs to adjust to the new media economy -- and that network affiliates would need to go along in order for TV networks to survive.

Ever since Walt Disney Co. made the revolutionary business decision to put its prime-time ABC shows on digital platforms a few years ago, TV stations have asked: "Is this the end?"

Now one Boston affiliate has decided to turn the tables -- perhaps with this thought in mind: "You're not breaking up with me! I'm breaking up with you!"

Maybe that's too dramatic. But TV stations should look to break some rules for their own sake. For their part, broadcast networks are years away from becoming full-scale cable-like networks, looking to get that prized dual-revenue stream.

TV stations were previously the beneficiaries of huge compensation packages for running network programming -- but much of that money has been drastically cut back.

A couple of days ago, at a SNL Kagan conference in New York, TV station executive Randy Bongarten took big time issue at some of the networks' idea of bypassing affiliates and becoming full-time cable networks.

He called that a "decision of inestimable stupidity," to which, in response, stations would go back to do their own programming and compete with networks.

Broadcast erosion? I guess we haven't seen anything yet.

Network broadcast ratings have continued to drop, at a steeper rate of decline in recent years. Traditional local TV advertising might not come back to its historical growth levels.  

The TV revolution is now coming to local TV screens near you



7 comments about "TV Stations Want Their Own Revolutionary Programming Changes".
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  1. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, April 6, 2009 at 12:51 p.m.

    I Revolted against both Broadcast AND Cable TV in the Fall of 2006. Fed up with both the lack of decent programming and the proliferation of Advertising "Clutter" (That's Commercials and On-Screen Advertising for those of you in Rio Linda!), I began investing my hard-earned money in DVD Box Sets of Vintage Programming that are either no longer shown, or are heavily edited to make room for the aforementioned "Clutter". 2 1/2 years later and I have acquired a Library of Programming that would put the Networks to shame! I have no sympathy for either the Networks or their Affiliates for what TV has become, they brought this on theirselves, inpursuit of the Almighty Dollar, at the expense of us viewers.

  2. Marc Schcher from MSS consulting, April 6, 2009 at 12:56 p.m.

    All well and good for stations to say they'll program against the networks....but with what. News isn't the answer....there's too much of that fact some affiliates are actually cutting back on it. The market can support only so much news inventory. What else? Competitive programming is extremely expensive to produce....its naive to think a station can take this on on its own

  3. Todd Koerner from e-merge Media, April 6, 2009 at 1:33 p.m.

    This is the Rubicon of the traditional network model, and the local affiliates must decide whether to cross or not. The need for local programming and the desire of a reliable platform online for local advertising mean that the forward-looking stations will migrate with all due alacrity their content onto online platforms with an eye to the one area that has the greatest need - serving local populations. This may also add to the proliferation of partnerships between local stations and print media.

    In particular, I would point to our local LA affiliate for The CW, KTLA, which is partnered with the LA Times. When I need to find information on local businesses or news stories of interest, I first visit either the LA Times or KTLA's website. This synergy will provide the resources to populate a robust online presence that is sorely underserved by national publications and news sources.

    Just ask yourself where you turn when a local news story breaks that normally wouldn't rate even a passing mention on the major news websites. That is where the future lies for local network affiliates.

  4. Thomas Dolata from WILX-TV, April 6, 2009 at 1:39 p.m.

    One man's news is another man's Idol. Nothing like a return to local programming? Costly? Maybe? Looking at home spun poor quality video on the internet is one thing. Having to do the same the same on your local station is another. Nets have noone to blame but themselves for dumbing down the program quality / product. Man does not live by quasi-reality shows (news and-or otherwise) alone.

  5. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 6, 2009 at 1:47 p.m.

    Your competitor Harry Jessell nailed the "real" story behind this story on the TVNewsday site, that GM Ed Ansin has an ax to grind with NBC dating back to the yanking of NBC affiliation at WSVN Miami a couple decades back. Is Jessell the only person to report this important detail? Doesn't anyone else dig below the news release anymore?

  6. Tv Missionary, April 6, 2009 at 10:20 p.m.

    Randy Bongarten's comment demonstrates utter desperation. What's stupider? Networks distributing higher quality (though lower rated) programming to the niche masses (a la cable networks)? Or the idea that with drastically diminishing revenue stations can produce their own content? The station news product is getting worse in front of our eyes. It's over for stations.

  7. Carl LaFong, April 7, 2009 at 9:56 a.m.

    NBC brought this on itself with the matra of "programming for (profit) margins." Affiliates don't give a rat's ass about the network's profit margin. Affiliates want hits.

    By programming for margins via Jay Leno, NBC loses 5 weekly hours worth of opportunities to build a hit.

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