Despite declining ratings, stock-market hits and a gloomy advertising outlook for 2001, Gannett Broadcasting's new president, Craig Dubow, is excited about the future of television. With 22 TV stations and 99 Gannett Co. Inc. newspapers to leverage, content is a lock, he says. But the key is moving that content onto new platforms, a space he calls "e-media."
Though acknowledging that these are "challenging times," Dubow is adamant that "it's also a time of tremendous opportunity." Gannett's advantage? "Brands in every local marketplace." With these, "we want to provide as much original content to as many areas as we can."
Dubow assumed the presidency of Gannett Broadcasting last Tuesday when it was announced that the 15-year veteran of the post, Cecil L. Walker, will ease toward retirement. He will remain CEO of Gannett Broadcasting and become its chairman.
Despite Gannett Co.'s troubles over the past year, particularly on Wall Street, the change in leadership is planned and orderly, Dubow says. In fact, there's no need to move in and shake up Gannett's TVs, he says. What's needed is "strengthening what we have."
To that end, one of Dubow's first plans is to beef up Gannett TV's morning-news shows. That's the fastest-growing TV daypart, and Gannett already has three of the nation's top-nine-rated morning shows: at KSDK St. Louis (No. 1), KUSA-TV Denver(2) and KARE Minneapolis/St. Paul (9). But Gannett also wants its stations to be first- or second-rated overall in all its markets, he says.
The company also would like more duopolies. So far, it has just one, in Jacksonville, Fla. As with expansion into other markets, Dubow says, "we will always be looking for opportunities.that make sense."
Dubow joined Gannett in 1981 at KUSA-TV , becoming national sales manager in 1983. After other sales stints, he became general manager of KVUE Austin, Texas, in 1988 ( KVUE is no longer owned by Gannett). In 1992, he was named general manager of WXIA-TV Atlanta and became executive vice president of Gannett Broadcasting in 1996. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and three children but plans to move to the Washington area, where Gannett Co. is based.