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Letter From the Staff: A New Year’s WishFrom B&C

Call us naïve. Call us Polyanna. Call us dreamers. But we've got high hopes for 2011 in the television and media business. And this year, we can actually say that with a straight face.

Yup, we slapped a blue sky on our cover with the word “Optimism” in a shiny font, and we feel good about it. If you want a tall cup of jaded to start your 2011, you’d better shop elsewhere today. Enough already with the gloom. We are feeling an impending sense across the industry that the worst is behind us. That the massive waves of cost-cutting and layoffs are finally beginning to subside. That most, if not all, companies in our world understand that you have to strike a balance, and chase the new business models of the future without abandoning the current ones that keep the lights on this week and next.

Now, we are not exactly back to the halcyon days, to be sure; there is still much work to be done. In the following pages, our team of industry insiders will lay out what several sectors are facing and expecting in 2011. This package of stories helps paint a picture of a renewed optimism; it definitely isn’t just a bunch of evergreen stories we wanted to put in the can ahead of time so we didn’t have to work that hard over the holiday break. Honest. We run these with both information and, most pointedly, high hopes.

We look at the programming world, where we hope the broadcast and cable networks alike aim high, opting for bold and original over derivative and, well, more derivative.

At local stations around the country, we hope the momentum (and cash) built in 2010 leads to a 2011 that reminds everyone of the power and upside of the station business.

In the news business, we hope there is a resurgence of the importance of objective news in a world where opinionated delivery mostly wins the ratings battles.

On Madison Avenue and Wall Street alike, we hope momentum builds and cash follows, allowing media companies the chance to continually reinvent themselves on the fly.

In our nation’s capital, we hope for some regulatory certainty on media ownership and spectrum policy, and for legislators to hold the partisan punches long enough to restore the economy and heal the healthcare system.

In the syndication world, we hope the movement toward new original programming continues as stations have a couple more bucks to spend.

In technology, we can’t wait to see what the next iPad is, and how media companies will keep leveraging these new toys to stay ahead of the constantly changing curve.

And in sports, we hope there is basketball and football next season, as a bunch of rich people fighting over money from the fans and networks is putting both in peril.

Overall, there is much to be optimistic about. The quickly evolving content delivery world is mandating that we adapt and invent business models swiftly. That pressure is forcing the media world to be at the top of its game. We are seeing a level and speed of innovation that is unrivaled in recent times. Frankly, that’s the media industry we love to cover.

More importantly, we are starting to see fewer and fewer companies operate from a starting point of fear; too many of us have been guilty of that during these lean times.

But our optimism only lasts as long as you allow it to. We want our Website every minute, our newsletters every day and our magazine every Monday to be exploding with stories of innovation, evolution and success. That is where you come in. We’ll do our part as always to share best practices of things we see around the country that are working, but we can’t write about them until you come up with and execute them.

And speaking of execution, one other thing we are confident of: For those of you who want to keep costcutting your way to profitability, it will be our job to document your struggles, and even your demise.

Like many, we remain unconvinced that there is actually a recovery from an economic standpoint, per se. However, we are seeing a recovery of spirit, if you will, across the business. So as we enter a new year, we do so with an emotion we are thrilled to be reunited with after far too long: optimism.

Happy New Year,
The Staff of B&C