Have you ever taken a trip to another city and saw a billboard for a local TV news broadcast and thought you never left home? Newscenter. Eyewitness. Storm Team. The names the same, only the call letters and the station number and network affiliation change. The graphics package, the logo, the taglines and even the way the news is reported is similar. Ho Hum.
Someone bought a franchise.
The McDonalds of news. Billions and Billions served, the same exact thing. Only the locations have changed to protect the innocent minds who tune in – in less and less numbers.
On top of it all, the use of channel numbers, ie. “Newscenter 7” or “2 News” means nothing when the viewer watches on cable- and tunes in on another frequency. With the advent of Digital broadcasts, the VHF numbers (2-13) will disappear, and that bandwidth will be used for other purposes, so why do local stations keep using a number that’s going to go away? Beats me.
There are also call letters. WRGT, WHIO, WOIO, that come from the days of morse code. It’s time to ditch call letters altogether- it’s time for URL’s. Can you imagine finding this site if it was YHLNUYKUS? Television over IP is coming, it’s time the local broadcasters realize that their programming will have be a consumer branded experience, that someone will want to subscribe to, just like you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. If you want information about what’s going on in Osh Kosh, you get it from Osh Kosh Central, or the Osh Kosh TV, via a subscription.
Local broadcasters aren’t going to be needed to deliver national or syndicated programming, just the local content they provide. News, weather, community, locally produced programming are all that’s left that consumers won’t be able to get from a server somewhere. Local advertisers are going to be particularly hard hit. How will they reach local viewers?
The answers there lie in the “set-top box” that is going to call up programming, or store it for viewers (think TiVo). Are you willing to pay more to watch a program without interruption, or watch ads targeted to you to cut the cost of programming? Most would say yes, if the ads are good (imagine being able to rate an advertiser- thumbs up, thumbs down, 3 thumbs down, you never have to watch again- 2 thumbs down and the advertiser has to pay more to reach you- but if they get three thumbs up, they don’t have to pay for reaching you).
Local broadcasters- now called content providers, will work to customize programming to reach certain parts of a community that advertisers are trying to reach. College sports teams and local pro sports teams will become more valuable as they start negotiating rates directly with their fans. This gets more and more complex with funding of pro- sports, but the market will figure it out.
There is more to this local content provider story, especially when you start talking about radio, king of homogenized product, but that’s for another entry.

So, what do you think?