Hearst-Argyle Names New Digital Media Exec

Hearst-Argyle CEO David Barrett reacted angrily in May to insinuations that station groups have been slow to realize the dollar potential of the Web. In reference to ABC's move to stream shows on ABC.com and suggestions that stations were only interested in preserving old distribution models, Barrett said: "We are as aggressive as ABC and Disney in terms of recognizing the potential of digital media. We've had a Web site business in place that's been growing for the past seven years."

In an effort to continue that growth, Hearst-Argyle has tapped a new director of digital media sales. Eric Koepele, most recently vice president of ad sales at CNET, will oversee sales at some 30 local station Web sites, as well as the Weather Plus digital television channels operated in partnership with NBC.

"I'm looking forward to building out multi-platform media-distribution strategies that deliver better access and convenience for Hearst-Argyle's audience," says Koepele, "while creating engaging and effective marketing platforms for the company's clients." He cites the strength of Hearst-Argyle's local content and community relationships, and says that digital distribution "of that great content will allow us to further strengthen the company's relationship with its audience and clients."



In the first quarter of 2006, Hearst-Argyle reported a $3.2 million increase in revenue from digital media. In the second quarter, the company says its Web sites affiliated with its local stations--which are part of the Internet Broadcasting network--generated over 330 million page views.

As growth in the ad market for local stations has slowed, station groups are increasingly looking to develop their Web and other digital businesses as alternate revenue streams. Hearst-Argyle stations, for example, are experimenting with providing content for mobile phones, a potential arena to develop an ad market.

At CNET, Koepele led the sales team for CNET.com, Download.com, and News.com. Hearst-Argyle says he was successful at attracting advertisers outside the technology category, such as automotive and telecommunications marketers. He joined CNET in 1999. "Eric's experience and success in developing advertising revenues for well-branded news-oriented Web sites at CNET makes him an ideal executive to direct our digital sales efforts," says Terry Mackin, Hearst-Argyle's executive vice president.

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