After running KUSA Denver and four other Gannett-owned TV stations for six years, local-TV veteran Roger Ogden is being given oversight of the company's entire fleet. When current station-group chief Craig Dubow moves up to become Gannett's president/CEO next month (replacing Doug McCorkindale, who will remain as chairman), Ogden will become president/CEO of the 21-station Gannett Broadcasting Division. He spoke with B&C's Allison Romano about his plans to expand the company's existing TV business and cultivate new revenue streams.
With a soft national spot market, how are Gannett stations trying to stimulate ad sales?
You don't give up on national advertisers, but developing local businesses who are not traditional TV advertisers is critical. For example, you can aggregate potential advertisers. We have a multiplatform program with 30 to 50 dentists. It gets people thinking about dentistry, and then they choose the dentist.
We have also started daytime programs in several markets, including Denver, Sacramento, Calif., Phoenix and Atlanta that are advertising-driven. It is not the answer, but it is one more product we can offer. And the Internet has opened up a new category. We get viewers' attention with a spot on TV, but the real payoff is to send them to the Web to get more detail.
Stations are testing new services with video-on-demand, cellphone services, broadband and multicasting. Where will you focus Gannett's resources?
We have strong, established brands for local news and information, and now we have to develop those brands across the emerging platforms everyone is talking about.
We'll do a little bit of everything. I am really engaged in the interactive world and the Internet and broadband delivery. In the past, what we produce has largely been limited because we've only had a single or maybe two distribution channels. But in tomorrow's world, those constraints will no longer be there. We could target information geographically or by demographic. The important thing is to continue to experiment in our markets, figure out what holds the most promise and then make those bets.
How are your stations developing their digital broadcasting capabilities?
All 10 of our NBC stations are committed to Weather Plus, and we like what we see. Our Knoxville, Tenn., station has had a second channel for several years with a little original programming and some repurposed product.
Other non-NBC stations, like Grand Rapids, are doing hybrid weather and local news. The whole idea is to experiment, figure out what has a marketplace and what the viewer interest is, and then take what we learn and export it to other markets.
You are experimenting with local programming at a few of your stations. Will you develop it throughout the group?
Locally produced programs are a big part of our future. Access magazine shows are coming back en vogue, and we have daytime programs in four markets that are largely commercially driven. But I don't know that we can carry the concept too far. It is one more piece of the puzzle in attracting people who have ad dollars to spend.
What new product are you itching to try?
I am a big fan of local magazine shows. My first GM job [at KCNC Denver] came in the early stages of PM Magazine. I always thought there was a lot of wisdom in the format. You make them locally, and you could make them efficiently.
But access was the only daypart available. Now we have secondary channels, duopolies and the Internet. There are no longer the same constraints as before. What were the reasons you couldn't maintain it? It had a lot to do with distribution. What was not entirely doable 15-20 years ago, we have to revisit.