Local TV

Cable Op Puts 'Time' Into Local News Nets

Time Warner Cable rebranding in N.C. and Texas, along with NY1 4/22/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Steve Paulus, senior VP of
news and local programming at
Time Warner Cable (TWC), has
been making the rounds, from Texas to
North Carolina to upstate New York, to
share plans about rebranding the cable
operator’s popular local news channels.
After the kerfuffle that erupted when it
was revealed that TWC planned to rebrand
its beloved NY1 News channel,
Paulus expects a smoother reaction in
Austin, Charlotte and other TWC local
news markets when the channels sport
new names in the fourth quarter.

In stamping “Time Warner Cable”
on the news channels, which feature
varied local branding, the goal is to
establish TWC as a national news network.
“Most people are not aware that
we are a pretty robust news organization,”
says Paulus. “It makes sense to put [all the channels]
under one umbrella.”

TWC executives probably did not foresee the degree of
vitriol that popped up when word of rebranding NY1 leaked
last month. With its “Weather on the 1s,” on-screen time and
temperature and dedication to lesser-covered topics such as
politics and transit, NY1 is a fixture in New York City television.
“Replace a beloved brand with a hated brand,” summed
up reader "Stuyman" on NYMag.com.

Perhaps related to the uproar, NY1 will likely remain in
the revamped branding—which is not yet finalized—and
on the screen. “It shows you how people feel about NY1,”
says Paulus.

The YNN channels—short for Your News Now—in New
York and Austin, along with News 14
across North Carolina, don’t have the
same brand resonance. YNN channels
adopted that name in 2010, and Paulus
says having a channel position in a
cable network’s name is “impractical.”

Mark Washburn, TV critic at the
Charlotte Observer, says he has heard
from "numerous" readers over the
years who suddenly cannot find News
14 on their TVs, and don't realize it’s
because they have dropped TWC. “I
think it’s probably a good move in that
it ties the station back to the provider,”
Washburn says. “It’s been a source of
confusion for many.”

In addition to enabling the various
networks to share content under a
common brand, Washburn notes the
rebranding reinforces who the parent
company is at a time when competition among cable, satellite
and telco TV, not to mention over-the-top outfits, is
white-hot. Paulus calls the news channels a “primary retention
tool” for TWC.

News 14 is the rare cable network that produces news for a
broadcast station—WXLV Greensboro. TWC is amenable to
taking on more such partnerships, says Paulus, and perhaps
launching channels in markets such as San Antonio, Dallas
and across Ohio.

The channel makeover will help establish TWC as a national
player in news, adds Paulus, who notes that the powerhouse
Fox News brand did not exist 20 years ago. “We’re
as well-respected as any local news product,” he says. “I don’t
think there’s any reason why we can’t do that too.”

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