It Appears Landmark is NOT Interested in Buying ANYTHING and Something to Think About When You Watch the Morning News

Well, well, well. It appears the rumor about Landmark Communications being interested in buying WREG or WHBQ was not only off the mark, it wasn’t anywhere close. I got an email Wednesday from my source inside the organization who alerted me to the fact that Landmark wants to SELL everything. I’ve since received a couple of other emails from some other folks including former co-worker JG from out Arizona way about plans by Landmark to get rid of its holdings which include WTVF in Nashville, KLAS in Las Vegas and The Weather Channel. Some predict the family that controls Landmark could get 5 billion dollars for TWC. I wonder if it’s too late to have them adopt me? So, perhaps Oak Hill/Tribune will snap up the two Landmark TV stations now. Hey, ratings-wise both tv stations are tops in their market and those are both good markets to boot. It will be interesting to see who snaps them up or if they go as part of TWC deal. Stay tuned.

Question: What do you have if you have a dozen TV news consultants in a pit with cement up to their chins?

Answer: NOT ENOUGH CEMENT!!!! Thank you folks, I’m here all week.

Those who’ve read this blog know that I do not hold news consultants in high regard. It’s only slightly higher than the ranking of the managers who take everything a consultant says as the Gospel. Granted some consultants can come up with interesting research in a market but some of the things they come up with is downright crap when it comes to running a newsroom. I swear I think some consultants are hired by managers so the managers will have a scapegoat when the numbers don’t climb as the managers promised the owners or shareholders. And you can just about bet the farm that if a consultant offers some advice it will be countermanded at some point down the road by (you guessed it) a consultant who may even be with the same company. Having said that, check out the findings of AR&D one of the large TV consulting firms concerning morning news. According to their findings, the Morning News Wheel is DEAD. They go on to say those “water-cooler” stories are hurting your newscast. It wasn’t that long ago that we had water-cooler stories shoved down our throats by consultants. That move  ranked right up there with holding up a newspaper on-air and reading something interesting out of it for the viewers. Boy, that was always a fun time.  But I digress. Here’s what the folks at AR&D had to say:

What are viewers trying to get out of the morning news? It’s not about the water cooler. It’s not about trying to look smart with other people.

  • Viewers want headlines — the “what” rather than the “why.”
  • They want you to alert them to any problems they’ll need to face beyond weather and traffic.
  • They want a jump on the day’s news — not a rehash of yesterday’s news.

On top of everything else “the AR&D morning news research also revealed that, by far, the biggest driver of preference is talent – almost three times as important as format, which was second in importance”.

What will morning shows do if they aren’t allowed to “rehash” the news from the previous day? Also according to the research, the last item should be good news for the “talent” serving the morning shows. Anchors, it turns out it is indeed “all about you” so count those scripts and make sure you get your fair share of face time. If your numbers are good, you now have ammunition to hold management’s feet to the fire to get those big raises come contract negotiation time. You might want to hurry though. It could soon be time for another visit from the consultants and when they come, chances are they’ll bring some new changes and research with them.

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10 Comments on “It Appears Landmark is NOT Interested in Buying ANYTHING and Something to Think About When You Watch the Morning News”

  1. Joe G. Says:

    Wow. The Weather Channel and up for sale. You couldn’t corner the weather market better by snapping those properties up.

    And I would think there would be a lot of companies that wouldn’t mind getting their hands on WTVF…. and KLAS for that matter. Two strong stations in growing markets. It’ll be interesting to see if NBCU or FOX are forced to take the stations if they want TWC and Both are looooong time CBS affils.

    Joe, you’ll probably remember that back in the day, we were encouraged (well, I was, anyway) to produce the Ch. 3 morning extravaganza as “radio on television.” No video teases, lots of copy stories were fine. I see that chesnut has been tossed on the fire as well.

  2. TVMEM Says:

    Recently, 5’s new GM told his troops personality means nothing and viewers don’t care who delivers the news. He said he doesn’t promote people, just the brand. He couldn’t have said much more to lower morale and make people feel he was a brick wall. Now that a pricey consultant says it, maybe he’ll listen. Personally, I hope not.

  3. Richard.... Says:

    I have to disagree with 5’s new GM! As a viewer, the person delivering the newscast means a lot to me as well as my wife. There are “certain” reporters and news personel on WREG and WMC that she can’t stand to see and some I just soon not hear as well.

    With the GM’s view, you can just put a computer generated figure on the screen and people will watch as long as said figure delivers up to date news. At least that’s what I gather from the above comment.

    Take it from this viewer, personality means a lot!

  4. Say What? Says:

    Is that Dave Brown I hear chuckling in the back ground?

  5. joelarkins Says:

    Just something to consider when it comes to anchoring newscasts. As you may have seen on an earlier post on this blog, Northwestern’s J School has created and is now airing a newscast hosted by an Artificial Intelligence/CG person. It’s called News at Seven and you can check it out at this link:
    The original version had a woman who looked like she stepped out of a current video game while the new version looks like she stepped out of one of those animated insurance ads. The nice thing about the CG newscasts is that you can select what topics you want to hear about and after you hear what you want, you can fast forward to the next story. Would I watch these. Not really. But don’t be surprised if, after they get things juiced up on the graphics and animation where the presenter looks more realistic that these won’t start showing up on websites and such. You may laugh now but remember when they started cutting back on studio personnel and replacing them with robotics in some markets. I think you will see such animation long before we all acquire “flying cars”.

  6. The GM Says:

    Regarding promoting brand over personality, I think you are mis-reading the new GM at 5’s comments or he didn’t state it properly. Viewers tune into a station because that station delivers a particular “brand” of news/information and entertainment that they come to like and rely upon. They do not tune-in specifically for the anchor (weather is a different story as long as the meteorologist is trustworthy, reliable and likeable).

    This is the best example I can give you. The FOX News Channel on cable has a particular brand that draws viewers. It doesn’t really matter who the anchor is or the pundit is for that matter. Viewers think the FOX brand is “non-liberal”. CNN has lost its way with its brand. It used to be the place to go for breaking news. With the FOX News success, CNN thought luring big-name talent would do the trick. Yet their landscape is littered with Aaron Brown, Paula Zahn and soon to be Campbell Brown. Viewers didn’t say “oh, Paula Zahn is now at CNN, I must switch”. Brand is more important than personality because Paula Zahn’s arrival at CNN did nothing to bring CNN back to their roots — breaking news.

    For WMC to regain their status as #1, they have to become what they were. They have to be that reliable, local television news source. It is a tall order for a station that has been listing in the wake of poor ownership/management decisions.

    The GM (not 5’s)

  7. Souljah Boy Says:

    “Recently, 5’s new GM told his troops personality means nothing and viewers don’t care who delivers the news. He said he doesn’t promote people, just the brand.”

    That explains why they jumped to hire Andy Wise….

  8. jim2 Says:

    I use friends and family members as a basis for my viewer “research” and what I’ve found is that most choose a channel on the people on that station. One friend watches 5 because she thinks the people are better looking than on 3. My mother will switch the channel in a second if she can’t stand the reporter or anchor. Content of course plays a BIG role as does presentation. Channel 24 is a station I never watch because I think most of the talent is terrible and the way the news is presented is tacky. Fox 13 has a great new look but I don’t care for most of their peope. On the other hand I think Ch. 3’s look is dark and sleepy and the “on your side” thing gets old but I like a good amount of their people. 5 use to have a really old look and started getting very annoying with flying graphics but I watched because I like Joe, Dave and several others. Recently they’ve added several young and/or annoying reporters and I’ve switched to 3 all the time. CNN’s problem is they picked terrible people, Aaron Brown, Zahn, the new female morning anchor etc. Are you kidding me? And let’s not forget the most annoying, Rick Sanchez. Bring back Lynn Russell, the guy with white hair, Leon Harris etc.

  9. JG Says:

    The bad weather coming in has made me think to comment on this…

    I have turned my TV radio on at work to follow the severe weather until it gets through our area, and I have it on WMC because there’s no one else in the Memphis market I’d trust more than Dave Brown.

    If Lee Meredith doesn’t think that established personalities like Joe Birch and Dave Brown are a HUGE part of what’s keeping WMC from slipping even further, he needs to seriously consider working in a different market.

  10. The GM Says:

    Clarification: use anchors in promotion to reinforce the brand not to define the brand.
    The GM

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