Each year I attend a few conferences put on by other companies, both because they tend to have different speakers, but also because it enables me to pick up some ideas that can enhance our events.
Today I went to the 23rd annual Kagan Radio/TV Values & Finance Summit. Robin Flynn, senior analyst for Kagan, was the very competent moderator of this one-day conference attended by about 125 people in New York City.
What was perhaps most striking, and at the same time least surprising, was that the message that came from these broadcast executives was virtually identical to what we hear in the print media. For instance, Jay Ireland, president/TV stations group, NBC Universal, was critical of his industry for its failure to move more quickly and "tendency to do things as we have before." Ireland lists television's advantages as reach, relevance, brand, community position and local. Finally he said that television needs to add more resources to the Internet and deliver product in whatever form people want and when and where they want it.
Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?
What was most relevant to our conference coming up next Monday and Tuesday (Drilling Down on Local: Targeting the Online Marketplace in San Jose) is the emphasis on local. Elliot Evers, managing director of Media Venture Partners, told the audience that "radio should be super serving the local populations." Mary Quass, CEO of NRG Media, reinforced that message when she said, "Great local radio is what we do."
In the next panel on the future of TV, Douglas Kiel, CEO of the Journal Broadcast Group, underscored what many on that panel said in one form or another: We drive local branding to get ratings and we leverage local brands to build our local products.
Not surprisingly, the audience came away with a clear message about the importance of local, both as a threat and an opportunity in the broadcast business. Like Yellow Pages, newspapers or magazines, broadcast media is not going to disappear, and a combination of the healthy cash flow and status of owning a local media outlet, especially in an environment where there is a great deal of private equity money looking for a home, will keep the deal flow healthy.
What will hurt any company and ultimately any industry will be owners whose sole purpose is to take as much cash out of the business as possible.