E.W. Scripps President/CEO Rich Boehne vowed Wednesday to make his station group a much more local--and profitable--company, with more local programming at its stations and better return on investment for that programming.
Boehne sounded a defiant note at the UBS Media and Communications Conference in New York this morning.
"I'm fully convinced that what we see today, both in local broadcast and newspapers offering so much content for free, is not a sustainable model," he said. "I know we're going to experiment much more aggressively to try to create those models and take that high-value premium content and derive much more revenue from it than we do today."
Boehne also said Scripps would boost its local presence at its 10 stations considerably, with The Oprah Winfrey Show's departure from broadcast TV next fall providing a rich opportunity to do so. "We're going to reprogram those hours," he said of Scripps' various Oprah stations. "We also [decided not] to reup shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Instead we're going to program locally. That will improve the margins; we'll make a lot more money."
Boehne said such moves are good for Scripps' local brands long-term. "We very much believe that local broadcast markets over time will consolidate," he said. "It's time to build brands and take market share, mind share, audience share under a local brand when we have the opportunity."
Speaking of opportunities, Boehne said the group would like to become more involved in taking over rival stations' news operations, as its WPTV West Palm Beach will do for Raycom's WFLX starting Jan. 1.
"We would like to do that in some other markets," he said. "So if you know folks in those markets who you think should not be in the news business and you'd like us to take over their stations for them, just give us a call."