Ex-Starz Exec Pushes TV 'Celebration'

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Marketing firm MediaTides is trying to get broadcasters to sell the DTV transition as a hot new product rather than a looming technological challenge.

"When you launch a new product, you tell people how great it is, you highlight the benefits, and you get usage," says Greg DePrez, who runs the company and formerly developed video on demand for Starz. "This is the most amazing thing to happen to broadcasting in 70 years."

DePrez says he has no problem with the National Association of Broadcasters promotion of the DTV transition—he says NAB has done a "great job"—but that he has put together a complementary "Digital TV Celebration" campaign that will allow stations to leverage the advantages of those new crystal clear pictures.

MediaTides will host a customized DTV Website (www.digitalTVtrainer.com), with the company and stations splitting the revenue from banner ads on the site—stations get two of the four major ad blocks. "We build the site," he says, "and maintain it for a monthly fee."

So, what do broadcasters who sign up with MediaTides get? The customized Web site, where they can post their own DTV-related videos, information and sell ads, plus a "community outreach" kit to help sell the service.

DePrez says broadcasters need to make over-the-air viewing "top of the list" when it comes to telling people how to access digital. National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr has argued that over-the-air TV could actually reclaim viewership from cable and satellite via the switch.

DePrez has had some talks with interested stations, but nobody had signed on the dotted line at presstime.

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