Let's Be New Thinkers


Excerpted from a speech by Belo Vice Chairman and B&C Broadcaster of the Year Jack Sander, given April 20 at the Television Bureau of Advertising conference in New York

We have so many opportunities in front of us in what is becoming a video-on-demand world. And no one knows the impact of video better than broadcasters. We've been presenting it and selling it for a long time. Now we're challenged to find new ways to deliver content, not just over the air but wherever and whenever consumers want it.

One of the best examples of our world's rapid shift to multiplatforms arose during Hurricane Katrina. When much of the New Orleans area had trouble receiving any local television signals, Belo's WWL not only stayed on the air continuously but also began streaming live video coverage nonstop through WWLTV.com.

The Tuesday after the storm struck, the WWL Web site received more than 10 million page views in one day—worldwide. In a dramatic way, one of the nation's worst natural disasters created an immediate and urgent market for multiplatform information.

It also underscored two of broadcasting's greatest strengths: compelling local content that makes a difference and a sincere commitment to community service.

As we look ahead, we have an inherent local-news and information infrastructure that cannot be duplicated. Our focus as sales executives must be on new ways to maximize opportunities in this multiplatformed world.

The one thing that will hurt us in the future is not using these new media to their full potential.

Will things be different? Of course they will! When haven't they been?

Our elected officials need to support the role we play in our communities. Just as we must be proactive with ad agencies and clients, we must be equally as aggressive with industry and mainstream media, investors and regulators. We may no longer be the “favored child.” But we need to re-commit ourselves to the positive, aggressive, “can-do” spirit that got us here in the first place.

Congressional leaders need to commit the resources we need to stay on the air as early and first responders. Congress also needs to recognize that broadcasters need contemporary rules for multiplatform media. I hope the FCC will create new ownership rules that reflect the marketplace and that Congress will authorize laws to protect our investments as content creators.

I've used a term within Belo that [my fellow employees] are surely tired of hearing by now: “We must be new thinkers.”

That's what this TVB conference is all about. George Burns once said, “I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.” That's pretty good advice. Let's do the same: Approach the future with the energy and passion that has always characterized our great industry.