Selling U: Groups launch TV sales school

Increased competition for ads has led Hearst-Argyle, Belo and LIN to create a training academy for local TV-station salespeople.

"Given the explosive growth of media outlets, high-quality training for media salespeople becomes all the more important," says Tony Vinciquerra, executive VP and COO of Hearst-Argyle Television. He also hopes the training will help the three companies keep good salespeople.

"As the marketplace becomes more complex, it's more important than ever to make sure our salespeople are as highly trained and as knowledgeable as they can possibly be," says Paul Karpowicz, vice president, LIN Television.

The Broadcast Sales Academy will run four-and-a-half weeks this summer for 30 to 40 entry-level or new salespeople at Belo's Dallas campus. The curriculum will include news production, ratings, research, operations of TV stations and ad agencies, field trips to stations and a newspaper plant, and a day of classes at the University of Texas, Austin. Broadcast consultant Ron Steiner will run the academy, with guest lecturers drawn from the industry and from industry organizations, including the National Association of Broadcasters and the Television Bureau of Advertising.

Students will learn the operations of a TV station and an advertising agency, as well as news production, ratings and research, business etiquette and community service. Each of the three partner companies will be permitted to send 10 students.

TVB President Chris Rohrs, who will be among the guest faculty, hopes the idea will spread. "This is the first time I've heard of this kind of collaboration and this kind of depth and comprehensiveness. These are three of the best groups in broadcasting, and this is a good expression of leadership."

The three groups are able to find common ground in part because, despite the more than 60 TV stations among them, they compete in only a few markets. "But even if we had a little more overlap," says Vinciquerra, "we're of like minds on this."