Last updated: November 12, 2008 - 10:11pm
[Commentary] With broadcast network companies such as NBCU, Disney, News Corp. and CBS increasingly relying on online sites, digital platforms and devices to distribute their programs, local station owners fear the dilution of the affiliate brand. They worry that the broadcast network owners will exit the TV station business by selling programs directly to cable and new digital media. Local TV station owners (many of them heavily in debt) are under pressure to modify high-cost legacy structure, leverage their unique local content and connections, and engage in new digital enterprises to collectively offset traditional ad declines. That means reaching beyond cash retrans fees from cable and telco operators to linking their local franchise brands with consumer electronics manufacturers like Apple, GPS operators, wireless mobile telephone and PDA manufacturers (like RIMM). It also means leveraging their position with Google and other Internet players seeking to capitalize on selling their available ad inventory and launching new Wi-Fi services using unlicensed "white space" between their channels. "If our business is going to be in-play, we might as well reinvent ourselves," confided one veteran independent broadcast executive. "It beats waiting for a rescue that will never come."
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