Meet the B&C Hall of Fame Class of 2010
By B&C Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/25/2010 12:01:00 AMClick here to read profiles of this year's inductees.
There is an old adage in sports, frequently cited by coaches and managers seeking victories and championships: You dance with the one that brung ya. It’s an axiom that well applies to business in our industry today: If you want to succeed, especially in these times of strange fluctuations, you had best apply the knowledge and talents of visionaries who got you where you are now.
That perhaps best explains an annual tradition of ours; in this case, asking the 2010 inductees in the B&C Hall of Fame to answer a bit of a stumper:
“What is the most important thing you learned in 2010 that will inform your decision-making in 2011?”
The class of 2010, thankfully, has the chops to take on such an unwieldy, wide-ranging question, and the answers reflect this. Certainly, we could use the global, historical perspective: People have stopped carrying umbrellas even though Chicken Little is still shouting loud and clear. So, is it time for a kind of stasis, or stirring action? Will shifts after Election Day lead to shifts in the media? And what big short-term ideas will bring about long-term solutions?
The class of 2010 is filled with chance-takers and change agents; decisive, reliable executives with a great belief in the power and future of the industry. Their answers offer a snapshot of where we are and a vision of where we’re headed.
Jim Bell, Executive Producer, the Today show (on behalf of Today) (read profile)
In 2010, I learned that broadcast television is far from dead. And trying to make sense of the world every morning requires a healthy fear of what you don’t know. In 2010, who could have predicted the BP oil disaster, the rise of the Tea Party or the resurgence of Betty White? Millions of viewers watch Today every morning, and millions more come to us throughout the day online for news and information. The success of the TV broadcast drives robust growth into new frontiers. The Today show interviews everyone from President Obama to the Dalai Lama and Lady Gaga, and these interviews live on long after the show is over.
Del Bryant, President & CEO, BMI (read profile)
I think there’s something becoming more and more apparent to me, and this year, I think it’s most apparent—that no one knows what’s going to happen. You can’t ever suspect that anyone has the answer. You can’t ever count out anything, and just as sure as you are that the one thing will happen, the other thing just might. And that’s not a negative thing.
It’s just becoming more and more apparent to me that nobody knows which way it’s going to fall. And there are tremendous amounts of opportunities available when things seem the bleakest.
If you believe in something: Charge. I just know that you still have to have a plan and work it. And that’s more clear today than ever before. Half the things you see today say you just can’t make plans the way you used to; you have to be agile on your feet. And you have to be, certainly, but more than ever, you have to have a plan and you have to be committed to working it in this immense clutter that is so confusing that if you’re not careful, you damn near believe your plan has already failed before you’ve even worked it, before it’s even had a chance to work. It’s easy to announce the patient’s dead before the patient’s ready to die.
Landel Hobbs, Chief Operating Officer, Time Warner Cable (read profile)
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that even in a very tough economy, we can continue to deliver value to our customers. It’s still tough out there right now. Aside from what you hear on television, Main Street is still struggling. Our products are fundamental to our customers, but we have to continue to deliver that value.
Raymond Joslin, Founder and former President, Hearst Entertainment & Syndication (read profile)
With the marriage of my last single child in 2009 and, as you might expect, the birth of my sixth grandchild in 2010, I am even more sure than before that my life is my family.
Paul Karpowicz, President, Meredith Local Media Group (read profile)
I learned never to take anything for granted, to be flexible, and be able to shift strategy very quickly. You have to be willing to take chances. Our business is changing, it has changed, and it will continue to change. We went through a significant shift in the business. We have to continue to be flexible, figure out where the business is going, and be in a position to take advantage of it.
Debra Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks (read profile)
I’ve learned to be more responsive to our audience. I think the research we’ve done in 2010 has been helpful in focusing us on who our audience really is. I think going into 2011 we know the segments that we want to appeal to and we have a clearer vision of all the different programming that we can do. It’s been hard to have two networks now and to try to service so many different segments of an audience. I think that’s been a big burden that we carry, because now everyone wants to come to BET and get something from it. So I think with the research that we’ve done we’re finally at the point where we’re able to deliver on that.
Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports (read profile)
What I learned in 2010 is that to survive in the broadcast business, you and your team have to be nimble, aggressive and totally open to new ways of doing business—and that is true for News and for Sports. The old model may not be broken, but it has to be re-molded, shaken up and tested in every way. The only viable way for CBS Sports to retain the broadcast rights to the NCAA basketball championship was to create a partnership with Turner Sports where we will jointly present and market this great event. We are tasked with retaining our marquee sports events and covering the news in the most responsible, comprehensive way, while also managing these businesses in the most ef! cient, creative, forward-thinking way. New technologies are breathtaking, but how can they be utilized to reach more people, cover the news in a deeper and more complete way…and yes, to generate additional revenue?
2010 again proved that you don’t fix what isn’t broken, as some of the legendary CBS News franchises continued delivering remarkable success. This year also reaffirmed my strong belief in the importance and relevance of both network sports and news, but also the reality that in this business each day’s mandate is to find new and creative ways to manage and grow, to remain viable, strong and impactful. Finally, I learned that if you produce the most compelling Super Bowl in years, an awful lot of people will tune in.
Jon Nesvig, President, Sales, Fox Broadcasting Co. and Executive VP, Fox Television (read profile)
I don’t know if I learned this in 2010, but I think 2010 reinforces it—trust your own judgment and act rather than wait for conventional wisdom to make decisions for you.
Tony Ponturo, Chief Executive Officer, Ponturo Management Group LLC (read profile)
To me it’s all about observation and understanding the environment you’re in. It’s understanding where people are coming from if you’re marketing to them, and observing what’s connecting with people and what’s important to them, and bringing all that forward in whatever you’re trying to do. You can’t force things on people that they don’t want to accept, but they’ll clearly embrace things you’ve connected to them somehow emotionally. That’s what I’d like to see more of, and I try to bring this to the things I’m doing now. Research is good, numbers are good, technical effort is good, but at the end of the day, keeping the human dimension in it—the observation of us as humans and how we react and what we react to—is going to be key to any successful project.
Marc Pritchard, Global Marketing and Brand Building Officer, Procter & Gamble (on behalf of P&G) (read profile)
I think I knew this, but I don’t think I knew just how powerful it was: the fact that brands are really judged by the company they keep. And that context really matters, because I saw such extraordinary engagement in the Olympics, and the People’s Choice Awards and the Family Movie Night and how it had a positive impact on our brands and our company, and P&G in total. It was beyond what I expected. So I think it really did prove for me the importance of the context, and making sure then that we get the right content with our broadcasting and cable partners. I think those partnerships will continue to get stronger as a result of this, because I’m really looking for innovation in the future. We have an opportunity here to really change the landscape for the better going forward, and so I’m hoping we can do that.
Henry Schleiff, President and General Manager, ID, Military Channel and HD Theater (read profile)
I learned in 2010 when I started here at Discovery that, in fact, you can “go home” again. Like my experience at HBO in 1980 when I started there or Court TV in 1998 or even Hallmark in 2006, I learned that the real excitement and, indeed, fun is being part of a team that builds up or turns around a cable network. That’s not only where the feeling of accomplishment is, but also where all the laughs are!
Robert Wehling Lifetime Achievement Award Winner (read profile)
The American people increasingly don’t believe what we’re saying in advertising, and they don’t think advertisers are on the up and up. And if those two things are true, then how are we ever going to recruit the best and brightest into a profession that people think is dishonest? We’ve got to change that, and it’s a huge job over the next 10 years. If we don’t change it, I think we’re in a lot of trouble. And it’s gotten worse because of a lot of things, but the thing I’d point my finger at is political advertising. Both Republican and Democratic candidates have run ads that are deceptive and half-truths about their opponents. And I think the public understands that, but it leads to a mistrust of all advertisers. What they say about their opponent is out of context and only half of the truth, and once you accept that about political advertising, you say, ‘Well, the people trying to get me to buy this car, are they telling me the truth?’ and it leads to a degree of skepticism that I think is unhealthy. I’ve seen a lot of it in 2010, part of it based on the recession, and we’ve got to fix this.
We’re trying to develop a statement of principles that can be broadly adopted by the industry and, along with that, a statement that all companies would sign that commit them to ethical behavior and eventually an awards program that would acknowledge companies that are doing a great job in the area of ethical behavior and advertising.
I’m a small voice in this industry, and I think it would be important to get some of the people who are more broadly recognized in broadcast and cable to say they agree with some of these things.
Tony Werner, Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer, Comcast Cable (read profile)
This year showed how pervasive and impactful the tablet form factor will be to media. I believe the platform will soon be second only to the TV for video consumption in homes that purchase a tablet. This new platform will change the way we think about a lot of things in 2011, including media distribution and navigation.
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