No one saw this coming? Right.

On the problems of local television companies, broadcast vet Tony Cassarra tells Harry Jessell at TVNewsday.com that “a lot of people did a lot of borrowing money and no one foresaw this cliff that we were all going over.”

Bullshit.

From “2005: A Year of Trouble for Broadcasters,” published in December of 2004:

A given is an assumption that is taken for granted. A serious examination of events and trends over the past couple of years reveals there are five important givens that all decision-makers must accept as we look to the new year:

  • The audience isn’t coming back.
  • Disruptive technologies will continue to empower viewers.
  • Our brands mean less with each passing year.
  • Reinventing ourselves isn’t a choice.
  • There are ways to make money beyond on-air advertising.

Of all the challenges facing broadcasters, none is greater than ignorance born of denial. Locked into old formulas and business models, the industry hasn’t paid enough attention to teaching and training itself and its employees about what’s been happening in the media world around them. The challenges faced by media companies — especially broadcasters — have been bubbling and brewing for years, but few have had the courage to act on them.

I am not the only one who has been relentlessly pounding the realities that we currently face. People like Cory Bergman, Steve Safran, Jeff Jarvis, Doc Searls, and many, many others have been saying the same kinds of things for years.

All I can do is shake my head when media executives play the victim. You could argue that the economy was a surprise, but you’d have to dismiss the work of Umair Haque and others to believe that was a real surprise either. We have entered a new era in Western culture, one that demands ways of thinking beyond simply balancing margins, and media companies face even bigger challenges than that. The disruption in the world of advertising continues unabated, and how this escapes the view of otherwise smart people is beyond me.

Having the content to secure a mass audience does not guarantee you’ll find sponsors willing to pay what you want them (or need them) to pay in the years ahead.

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