No one saw this coming? Right.

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


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.


  1. i did find it strange in the article that the guy said he’d advise stations not to sell unless they absolutely had to, but if given “$50 (or was that 500?) million” what would he do? well, he’d buy stations.

    oh, and the article itself was about a NEW business model… only the guy pretty much said the hypothetical $$$ would be used to buy OLD businesses.

    tvnewsday is a great place for all those delusional folks to hang out, back-slap, high-five and comment with each other.

    i will tell you this though- this is the same sort of talk that floated around the car business since back in the EARLY 80’s… it only took another 30 years to completely collapse.

    (btw- love the story on the rabbits. my (4) baby robins just vacated the nest last thurs… i really miss them buggahs!)

  2. The shallower the pool, the less likely people will want to dive in.

    The murkier the water, the less likely people will want to drink.

    The more stagnant the water, the more likely to breed mosquitoes.

    I say this because broadcast licensees, as a whole, haven’t been paying a damned bit of attention to the depth of their water, the delta, the clarity or potability of their pools.

  3. Mike Orren sent out a tweet today with a curious survey about online video. According to the survey users don’t really watch that much online video and that the need for online video has been overhyped.

    The article, in Adweek can be found here

    I do know from my experience as the webmaster of a college newspaper that unless a video was especially newsworthy to the days events, only a small percentage of our users would even bother to watch it.

    On the other hand, I and my circle of friends are avid Hulu watchers.

    So do you think this means that news organizations should back off the push for al ot of online video… I’m still scratching my head trying to make sense of this survey

    BTW Greetings from the DC metro area!


  1. […] I read an interesting post by Terry Heaton, about how broadcasters are complaining that they couldn’t see the disruptions they are now experiencing. […]

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