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Frank Stands Up for Local TV

Don’t tell Post-Newsweek Stations CEO Alan Frank the local broadcasters are “old media.”

TV stations, Frank says in defense, are actually ahead of the technology curve. They’ve upgraded to digital, developed sophisticated web sites and are pursuing wireless and digital broadcast plays, he says. Through it all, Frank says, “We change, but we are always local.”

Frank spoke out in defense of his industry Thursday at the Television Bureau of Advertising’s annual conference, where he accepted B&C’s “2005 Broadcaster of the Year” award.

Past winners Dennis Swanson, EVP and COO of the Viacom Station Group; Dennis FitzSimons, chairman of the Tribune Company; and David Barrett, CEO of Hearst-Argyle Television, echoed similar rallying cries. “We are in the tough times,” Swanson said. But, “local stations have a great asset a lot of people covet. It goes back to localism.” 

Stations’ advertising coffers are being threatened by aggressive cable salespeople gunning for local as well as regional and national ad dollars. Local and live programming, FitzSimons says, sets TV stations apart.  “We still have a great business and we need to [dispel] this air of pessimism.” 

While digital video recorders and video-on-demand are also threaten the traditional ad-supported model, the executives said live sports and news are the most Tivo-resistant programming. That's encouraging for stations, which get the majority of ad revenue from their local newscasts.

“What we do locally may be less impacted,” Frank said.