Station groups have been bulking up big-time since last year’s NATPE show, which means that those groups now have more leverage over what shows get produced and how they are distributed.
Consolidation, however, can cut both ways. In the 1980s, production companies’ successful effort to get the FCC’s fin-syn rules deep-sixed led to consolidation in syndication that reduced the number of sellers stations could go to for shows.
Station consolidation has now put the shoe on the other foot. But since the shoes are Brunos and Blahniks, it’s still a good business from both sides of the equation. SVOD may be making inroads, but TV stations continue to have a trump card.
Broadcasters in Washington continue to play the “free” card in arguments for preserving a healthy over-the-air industry after the incentive auctions, but the other side of that card is the “ad-supported” that keeps the service free and keeps broadcasters in the front of the line for top shows in syndication.
Paige Albiniak’s cover story in this issue illustrates how quickly things change and how dramatically different the business looks than it did last year, so it’s more important than ever for our business community to come together face to face—as it will do this week in Miami Beach—to make peanut butter cups out of the chocolate and the peanut butter.
We encourage this spirit of partnership we see emerging. It may be born of necessity, but that lineage often produces inventive programming and business models. The business will need both. It will also need some certainty out of Washington about over-the-top distribution and copyright protections if programming is to sustain the quality that takes money and the confidence to invest it. That means the Supreme Court needs to speed its deliberations on Aereo, on which some of that future rests.
Relationships can be maintained remotely, but they are built and nurtured in person, where ideas become concepts and Emmy-winning shows. We all know developing an idea or hearing inspiration is far more likely when you’re there in person with other members of the community. Making a deal on a cocktail napkin, coming up with ideas over a meal or listening to a visionary on stage: Those are the same things that inspired this event more than 40 years ago, when station programmers got together to see how they might partner and share in the fruits of their distribution labors.
That is why we’ve been covering NATPE since the first show, and syndication since the days of Frederick Ziv and the Cisco Kid. It also explains why we continue to commit to covering the show like no one else, and why we mount two dozen-plus events of our own each year, making sure that faceto- face does not become e-mail-to-text message.
We look forward to seeing you there, reporting on the latest and greatest from the talented people who make this such a great business to bird-dog.