The Cutting-Edge Broadcaster - Broadcasting & Cable

The Cutting-Edge Broadcaster

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Below are excerpts from Alan Frank's speech at
the TVB conference in New York on March 31. Frank, president and CEO of
Post-Newsweek stations, was lauded as B&C's Broadcaster of the
Year.

One of my favorite notes I got about this award came from my nephew, a
bright young lawyer. He wrote, “Congratulations, Uncle Alan. But this is
bittersweet for me—I had $10,000 on Rather.”

So [making wisecracks] runs in the family! Among the other notes I
appreciated was this: “Are you sure this award isn't for Troublemaker of
the Year?” I have no idea why that would even be suggested.

But let's talk about local TV for a few minutes…

Free, universal, local over-the-air TV stations are “cutting
edge.”

No, Wall Street, I haven't lost my mind.

First, most local TV stations have an Internet component. I'd say that
every big- and mid-market and most smaller-market stations have a Web site. And
those Web sites are often the most popular ones in their markets.

Second, almost all local TV stations now broadcast in digital. We've
spent billions investing in and converting to digital technology. Nearly 1,500
stations are now broadcasting digitally. And the programming is there—more
than 2,500 hours per year already are being fed in high-definition.

Third, stations are multicasting. The most prominent example is Weather
Plus, the service that NBC affiliates are beginning to provide. In total, more
than 300 stations are multicasting now, offering more free choices to
viewers.

Local, over-the-air broadcasting is also wireless. This basic fact is somehow overlooked by
some. It is perverse to be defending free, universal, local over-the-air
broadcasting at the same time our country is struggling to create wireless
services for homeland security. We provide crucial emergency information 24
hours a day, seven days a week. We accept that responsibility as broadcasters
and are pledged to continue to do so.

Now we have a new FCC chairman, Kevin Martin, and I know that all
broadcasters are looking forward to working with his office, the commission and
our congressmen to establish an orderly, intelligent transition to digital.

But we also know that 73 million sets are now analog only, with 20
million homes non-cable analog only. And we know that 30 million analog sets
are still being sold each year!

Local broadcasters are pledged to working through this transition. We
just want to be sure the end result is positive for the American consumer.

Because, finally, on my “cutting edge list” is the fact that we are
local. And the power of TV comes from
localism.

Local TV news is the direct connection to our community. We provide
those local connections for stories from around the world, reminding us that
all news is local by nature. We're the direct interactive link between our
markets and our politicians. This dialogue is fundamental to the democratic.

Like many of you in this room, we at Post-Newsweek are proud to be local
broadcasters. There's nothing better.

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