Commentary

Sinclair Favors Consolidation, Downplays Value Of Local TV Newscasts

There are too many local TV newscasts out there -- at least as it concerns Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Chris Ripley, president/CEO of Sinclair, doesn’t think four, five or six local TV stations with news operations per market does anyone any good. “We think the industry needs to consolidate to two or three large broadcasters, and really just one to two strong local players in each market.”

All that makes sense as Sinclair -- the biggest local TV station group -- wants to get bigger with its proposed deal for Tribune Media.

You can be sure other competing TV station groups' news directors -- who compete with either Sinclair and/or Tribune -- would disagree. But for future business/advertising side local TV newscasts, it could mean massive leverage to command top CPMs from local and national spot advertisers.

Is Sinclair leaning toward more national TV services? Not at all. Recently, Ripley said in an interview the company doesn’t want to create a national TV news network/service that would compete in part with Fox News Channel.

But Sinclair still wants to see better advertising returns from a scaled-down local TV ad marketplace -- one that is trying to transition to more digital/automated and efficient systems.

For remaining TV stations' ownership, it would smooth out the periodic spikes local TV advertisers endure with the ups and down of Olympics and political advertising.

Ripley said during Wednesday’s second-quarter earnings call: “There's significant savings to be had putting local content players together on a local level. We're talking anywhere from 20% to 50% of the expense load that can be synergized and made more efficient.”

In addition to media-buying agency executives' concerns over higher TV ad rates, this kind of talk could raise concerns from federal regulatory agencies as it relates to anti-trust, anti-competitive issues.

Sinclair might counter that bigger local TV news groups would -- in theory -- give local market consumers stronger news coverage with better news-gathering resources.

But you need to go deeper to get real value: Would those loyal local news viewers be any better informed and smarter?

6 comments about "Sinclair Favors Consolidation, Downplays Value Of Local TV Newscasts".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, August 3, 2017 at 2:47 p.m.


    Sinclair is right, of course.  "One or two" central news sources would be SO much easier to deal with.  And maybe a single party. A single name on the ballot.  Damn, I feel better already. 

    Shall we decide which "national color" to go with?  Brown and red have been done to death.

  2. Suzanne Sell from Independent, August 3, 2017 at 7:43 p.m.

    Since news has traditionally been a big moneymaker for many local stations, I suspect that this would result in consolidation of the weakest news operations in a market while one or two news leaders remain independent and dominant. I don't see how this benefits anyone but the current market leaders. Unless gets taking about what's happening in some very small markets, which is to outsource the news gathering process to stringers and produce the show itself on a virtual set outside the market. Sinclair could do that in its own. Scary during tornado season!

  3. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, August 3, 2017 at 8:07 p.m.


    "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper' - T.S. Elliot

    This article most certainly points to a whimper. 




  4. Eric Fischer from HJA Strategic Consulting, August 4, 2017 at 2:20 p.m.

    Wow, same thinking as Clear Channel when I worked there in the early part of the 2000s. Why have local programming on eight stations in a local market when we can operate them like two or three stations and save a bunch of cash and put it to the bottom line.  Forgive me, but how did that work out for Clear Channel?

  5. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, August 9, 2017 at 3:16 p.m.

    Of course they want local news, but they want it to be their version. We all know where this is going. 

  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, August 9, 2017 at 8:19 p.m.

    Be careful. MP doesn't like to hear things like that.

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