Growing political division in the U.S. is “very good for our business,” says Chris Ripley, chief executive officer of Sinclair Broadcast Group, speaking at a MoffettNathanson Research media conference about election primaries this year that will culminate in the a midterm elections in November.
To be fair, Ripley did add: “I lament that we're in the political environment that we are.”
The day before, speaking at the same conference, Lachlan Murdoch -- executive chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Corp., which owns Fox News Channel -- was a bit less equivocating. He says Fox News viewers don’t think of the channel as “news” -- but rather as more as a media platform.
“We are not only in the news business,” he said. “And when you talk to our fans in middle America -- people who are heavy Fox News viewers -- they don't see us as a news business either. They see us as an American media brand.”
That shift in perception may be obvious to some -- especially as opinion-based content continues to loom large. Does being a media “brand” give TV networks an out when it comes to balancing opinion and truth/fact-based content on the same airwaves?
Sure, we understand that producing news content costs money -- it's a business. But increasingly, messaging this to investors, consumers, potential advertisers can be a tricky thing.
Do the likes of national competitors to Fox -- CNN and MSNBC -- have the same view?
For one, Chris Licht, chairman and chief executive officer of CNN Worldwide, said he wants the network to get back to basics in terms of reporting more straight-ahead news: “The next chapter of CNN is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy.”
Beacon? That's some high-level stuff.
You might say the opinion content of CNN and MSNBC also still works for those networks in terms of “brand” association for consumers, although neither they -- or Fox -- will ever use the word in their respective consumer marketing on-air campaigns.
Stirring emotions -- and engagement -- around breaking news content is “good for business,” and creating “brands.”
Can that messaging be improved -- or can it be more specific?