Monday, November 23, 2009

Media Monday: Oprah's departure highlights broadcast challenges

Lost in last week's announcement of the end of Oprah Winfrey's show in 2011 was the impact that her departure will have on broadcast television channels.

It's going to be big, I'm afraid.

Just like newspapers have been facing challenges from new competition, so have our broadcast brethren in television and radio.

The advent of satellite radio and television is changing the landscape of broadcast just as Internet is impacting the newspaper industry.

But the announcement of the end of Oprah's ratings juggernaut is going to shake up local television, especially those stations that schedule her before the local news.

This includes mainly ABC network stations, including KVII.

A story in the New York Times really sums up the issues facing broadcast fairly well.

The mass audiences that used to flock to network television - remember just a few decades ago when there were just three or four stations - are now being fragmented.

It doesn't mean that we won't have local television stations - just like the issues facing newspapers will not put us out of business.

But the more important issue is that we need to continue to hope that all local sources of information continue to do well in this changing landscape.

First, competition makes us all better. And second, we need to have many sources for local information, not just a few. Let's just hope the economy can continue to fund all news gathering operations.

Local television stations have been merging their newsrooms together in cities large and small. Locally, the NBC affiliate and FOX affiliate share the same news resources.

The current economic issues along with the fragmenting of audiences is posing some challenges for all media outlets.

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