While political ad revenue is the current buzz among broadcasters, the TVB’s 2016 Forward Conference will convene a broader conversation about a range of economic, political, technological and cultural challenges affecting local broadcast TV.
“It’s all about moving the business forward,” said Steve Lanzano, president and CEO of the Television Bureau of Advertising. “We will hit on all the issues affecting broadcasters now and affecting them down the road.”
The agenda for this year’s Sept. 29 conference, which will be held at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, aims to reinforce the group’s core mission: driving money to local TV.
In this presidential year, political advertising—and the major drivers behind it—will certainly get a lot of emphasis. Two panels, one moderated by ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, are expected to draw big interest, especially given the unpredictable nature of this year’s campaign and PAC spending (or lack thereof), Lanzano said.
“I get at least one or two phone calls a day asking about political,” he added.
Other panels will address topics that are not tied to cyclical events like the general election or this past summer’s Rio Olympics.
Economist Steven Szakaly, for instance, will discuss the state of the auto industry—local TV’s biggest advertising category—as well as whether this is the last year of new car growth and, if so, what that means for broadcasters, Lanzano said.
David Poltrack, CBS chief research officer, will lead a panel on audience measurement and what improvements will be made, including Nielsen’s recent decision to replace its ratings diaries with information from set-top boxes. “There might be some fireworks on that one” given general industry angst on rati'Forward’ Looks at Election, But Also Far Beyondngs in a multiplatform, time-shifted age, Lanzano said.
Broadcasters’ digital operations will also be a topic, as will automation and larger themes in the ad industry. An allwomen panel led by Paula Faris, cohost of The View, will provide insights into what it means to be a female leader in local TV.
The Forward Conference’s all-day program is an offshoot of TVB’s expanded efforts to help local TV thrive through a range of year-round initiatives, Lanzano said. The TVB offers broadcasters sales training, for instance, as well as consulting. It meets regularly with potential advertisers from politicians to trade associations, emphasizing the value of local TV in a rapidly changing media landscape.
“There are so many things going on right now that will be sorted over the next years and it will affect the business,” Lanzano said. “There is a lot of disruption.”