Catching Up on What’s Going On in the World of TV Part 2

I don’t know what is more depressing these days.  Looking at my 200.5K (it used to be my 401K but it’s worth about half of what it was!)  or looking at the state of the media.  Yes, everyone is hurting and hurting in a big way.  I’m sharing a posting from The GM who left a comment on my previous post.  (As an aside, I’m glad to hear from The GM as I feared he/she had become a victim of the economy or some cranky owners.  I figured he or she was so busy keeping the TV station in the black that he/she didn’t have time to write).  Anyway, here is what The GM had to say:

It is as ugly as I have ever seen it — down right scary. TV gets 20% of its ad revenue from auto advertising. The Big Three are on the Hill with their hand out and as of yet, it is still out there, empty. What does that mean? Lower ad revenue. Not just auto but the housing bust takes its toll on furniture and everything else that a homeowner might buy.

Many, many media companies are over leveraged. When they took on that debt, the lenders put convenants into the agreement that said the debt to revenue ratio couldn’t exceed a certain amount. Well no on anticipated a drop in revenue like we are seeing across the board. Those ratios are not being met, which means default.

Not only will you see hiring freezes and layoffs, I predict within two years you will see many markets with only the top two stations producing a newscast — this will be particularly true in markets 50+. There is just not enough of a news pie to justify threee or four stations producing news. Losing money is not an option.

So, there’s my Christmas Cheer for the day. Feel better?

Focus on being efficient and effective in your job because your company is doing the same.

The GM

Folks, those of you still working in TV land better take note.  To quote Norm from the sitcom Cheers, “It’s a dog eat dog world out there and I’m wearing Milkbone underwear”.

How bad is it.  Well, I see that Miles O’Brien, longtime reporter (16 or 17 years) for CNN was let go.  MOB was their aviation expert who covered the space program and aviation disasters and was at one time scheduled to be the first journalist in space before the Columbia disaster.  Along with the axe falling on MOB, about a half dozen producers were also let go from his “unit”.  Here’s a link to Shoptalk for the skinny.  Folks, IMHO, that cut went into the meat and not the fat.

Then I see buried in the “A” section of the Commercial Appeal that the parent company of the C-A,  Scripps is trying to sell the company’s  flagship newspaper located in Denver.  And if they can’t sell it, well then other avenues will have to be explored or something to that effect.  Can the C-A be far behind?  Or for that matter can some of the local TV news operations be far behind?  I would think that marginally performing news shows might be in trouble except that it might still be cheaper to air news in those time slots than to try to buy syndicated programming.  Perhaps The GM can weigh in on that as well.  One thing is for certain, if you work on a news program you had better make sure you are worth what they are paying you.  Remember, it doesn’t take that long to train some hungry person just out of school who is practically begging for a job anyway and there are plenty of Ken and Barbies waiting for their shot as reporters and anchors.  And to help determine just how much someone might be missed in any business try this: Get a bucket of water and very quickly stick in your hand and pull it out.  The size of the hole that is left in the water will determine how much the organization you work for can get along without you.

And one final note,  (thanks from DG for sharing,) Landmark, which recently sold The Weather Channel to NBC Universal (which then started swinging the budget axe, hitting about 80 people) has announced it is taking the two TV stations it owns OFF the market, according to NewsBlues. A deal had been set to sell WTFV in Nashville but financing fell through at the last minute.  I’m not sure if KLAS had any serious suitors.  I guess for now, this is good news for employees at both of those stations as long as the proverbial sugar-teat doesn’t dry up.


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5 Comments on “Catching Up on What’s Going On in the World of TV Part 2”

  1. The GM Says:

    “Or for that matter can some of the local TV news operations be far behind? I would think that marginally performing news shows might be in trouble except that it might still be cheaper to air news in those time slots than to try to buy syndicated programming. Perhaps The GM can weigh in on that as well.”

    Joe,
    Thanks for acknoledging my abscence. Fortunately for me, I have a strong station in a weak economy. We all hurt, it is all relative.

    Re: the above. I’m not talking about eliminating shows, I’m talking about eliminating whole news operations. At minimum, a small, effective news department will be $1 million in cost. If the station doesn’t bring in at least $1.2 million in news revenue they will lose money on news (have to gross-up the revenue for commissions). If a company is cutting, they do not cut profit centers. They cut those that cost money. Running Cheers, Seinfeld or even Dr. Phil is cheaper (Oprah is another issue.)

    Last word. Work hard, keep your head down, be thankful you have a job and look for ways to make your station more efficient. Doing all that may not be enough because some companies are up against it. In the end, your future is in your control. Talented people; hard working people will find a way to see that this “crisis” is really an opportunity.

    The GM

  2. the tall tv guy Says:

    Joe,

    The GM gives a great example of when one industry suffers, others are affected. Years ago, Fleming Furniture ran tv ads constantly. When they closed their doors the last time, I questioned who would fill that void in ad time.

    Things are going to get worse before better. The executive branch of the government is in transition over the next 5 weeks, but the weeks of Christmas and New Years are the two slowest, non-productive weeks of the year. It will take the new administration six months to a year to create recovery plans, get them through a new Congress, have the new policies become reality, and see the results of their work. In the meantime, the economy will continue to struggle.

    Thank you, Mr. GM, for the dose of reality. I’m not going to call it Christmas Cheer!

  3. Ready Camera One, Take Two Says:

    The TV station ad rates might be another version of the foreclosure crisis. Local TV ad rates seem a bit over inflated. I’m still shocked at what some clients pay for spots on the local affiliates. Tall TV Guy mentioned Fleming and his ad blitz…he was running on credit before the bankruptcy (#2 or was it 3) circa 2001. He left a lot of people holding a lump of coal. Tighter ad budgets from advertisers and alternative media ad offerings might drive down TV spot rates thus tightening even further TV station budgets. Reporters, anchors and other employees might see management start using that “other duties as assigned” clause of their contracts. Maybe 3, 5, 13, & 24 become the Action Earwatch News Channel. Maybe wrestling comes back with a loser-leave-town hair match between Joe Birch and Cameron Harper or Donna and Mearl have a eyelash match. Lance Russell comes back as a news director. “Monday night at the Mid-South Coliseum you’ll see….”

  4. The GM Says:

    Ready Camera One, Take Two,
    Non traditional revenue ideas — I like!
    The GM

  5. JD Says:

    PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! GM, READY CAMERA ONE, TAKE TWO, et al:

    No Enzyte whistling, smiling wild man. No more singing street people for Fleming and no more Larry Enis hawking used cars and cutting off the Keras people in mid sentence!
    No more Vatterot, ITT and Strayer, old time telephone ringing in the background, 3 year old commercials. AND above all………..no more “Mo’ Money” ridiculous commercials!

    I’ll pay anything….even for Cori Lake to read kids fairy tales on FOX13 just to keep this other stuff at bay! Have mercy you guys! And also trust me……it ain’t worth the drive!


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