Adam Symson, president and CEO of E.W. Scripps, is B+C’s Broadcaster of the Year for 2023. Symson is a staunch believer in broadcast TV’s role in informing and empowering viewers and users, and took several steps this year to ensure Scripps is set up to play that part for the foreseeable future.
Symson started 2023 with a bang, as Scripps’ free 24/7 over-the-air news network Newsy was rebranded as Scripps News on the first day of the year. Scripps News supplements the local news mix at the 40-plus Scripps stations. Scripps News grabbed its first national news Emmy this year with the documentary series In Real Life.
While journalists across the country are hustling to retain their jobs, often seeing their workload increase while their pay stays flat, Scripps announced a $10 million investment that goes towards increasing journalists’ salaries and hiring up to 250 more of them. Symson, who joined the company as executive producer of investigations and special projects at KNXV Phoenix, sees himself as one of them.
Scripps acquired Ion in 2021, and the network airs The Scripps National Spelling Bee. The audience grew 22% this year, compared to last, and fully 9.2 million viewers watched the semifinals and final, which also aired on Bounce, Defy TV, Grit, Laff and other Scripps networks. The final had its largest audience in over a decade.
Scripps launched a redesigned version of Tablo, an over-the-air DVR that records broadcast TV and curated FAST channels without a subscription, in August. The company’s commitment to free TV, delivering vital local content on a range of platforms, is robust.
Symson, 48, was named Scripps CEO in 2017. The Scripps stations include WEWS Cleveland, WCPO Cincinnati, WXYZ Detroit and KTNV Las Vegas.
Debra OConnell, president of networks, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, was B+C’s Broadcaster of the Year in 2022. Diane Kniowski, chief local media officer at Univision Communications, got the honor in 2021. Emily Barr, then president and CEO, Graham Media Group, won in 2020 and Hilton H. Howell Jr., Gray Television chairman and CEO, was Broadcaster of the Year in 2019.
Symson will be profiled in the December issue of B+C Multichannel News, along with the winners of B+C’s annual Station Awards.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.