Chaos 2.0

To Witness The Collapse of the Old Model, Stay Tuned To Your Local Station

By Published on .

A few layoffs at a local NBC affiliate in Washington, DC. In the overall scheme of things, who cares?

You should, because what happened at WRC 4 this week is the leading edge of the End of TV As We Know It.

Under cost pressure from its owner-operator, NBC, WRC severed ties with four of its most familiar news personalities -- just as rival WUSA 9 did a couple of years back. No problem, says management, people will still watch us for our way of doing things (which, by the way, if you care about news, is already worse than pitiful).

Former market leader WUSA, of course, had offered exactly the same assurances. Now its 5 p.m. newscast is in fifth place, behind four other newscasts and "Judge Mathis," and its 6 p.m. languishes in fourth.

Local broadcasters depend on two things for the bulk of their revenue: ad inventory allotted to them within network shows and their ads on local news and the prime-access that follows. But rapidly shrinking network audiences will soon devastate prime-time ad revenues, and local cost-cutting will decimate local news budgets, starving the goose that lays the golden egg.

Think about 2007. No election to pump up the local ad markets. No Olympics. And, as for prime time, the nets are bypassing their affiliates with online distribution. Long ago we predicted blood in the streets. Next year, it will begin to flow.
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