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TVB Looks 'Forward' At Annual Conference

TVB held its Forward conference at the Time & Life Building in New York today.

Michael Fiorile, head of Dispatch Broadcast and a key figure on the CBS and NBC affiliate boards, was awarded B&C’s Broadcaster of the Year prize. “When needs arise, broadcasters show up–Katrina, Isaac, 9/11, or public affairs or local news programs,” he said. “Local, state and federal elections–we are there.”

Fiorile had family in New York to celebrate his award, including his wife Karen, and daughter Elizabeth, an account exec for WCVB Boston.

“The importance of local can’t be overstated,” he said. “Nobody does it better than all of us.”

A panel called The Media Economy, featuring big-time analysts Marci Ryvicker and Michael Nathanson, and moderated by Harry Jessell, revealed their belief in a healthy local broadcast industry. Ryvicker mentioned a major investor in Boston telling her local TV is replaceable.

“I don’t think it’s replaceable,” she said. “It may be rocky along the way, but for me, I do believe in the industry.”

Facebook’s Wall Street woes, said Ryvicker, suggest that social media is not as big a threat to local TV as some fear. “The best thing for the TV industry to look at is Facebook’s stock,” she said. “The minute they start to put up ads, your consumption goes down and you’re on to the next thing.”

With network ratings down, Nathanson said syndication may pick up some of the revenue that otherwise would be spent on national ads.

An eagerly anticipated panel on political spending, featuring Kantar/CMAG’s Kenneth Goldstein and Elizabeth Wilner, showed that the presidential election is in the hands of around 700,000-800,000 undecided voters. “They’re spending an incredible amount to reach that tiny sliver,” said Goldstein. “It’s been phenomenally focused.”

Around 75% of the political money raised goes to advertising, while 56% of that goes to local TV–ahead of network (2%), cable (15%), mail (15%) and internet (6%).

Goldstein is sticking with the $2.5 billion-$3.3 billion political spending forecast he offered up at last year’s conference.

“It looks to be much closer to $3 billion,” he said. “Perhaps north of $3 billion.”