Monday, October 24, 2005

TELECOM '05: Hearst-Argyle TV on Why Telcos Need Local Broadcast Partners

Telcos and local broadcast stations are natural allies because of strategic regulatory and technology issues, said David J. Barrett, President & CEO, Hearst-Argyle Television, speaking at TELECOM '05 in Las Vegas.

Barrett, who was introduced at the keynote by Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, said telcos and local broadcast stations are both facing regulatory challenges in the video distribution business. Telcos are fighting for a streamlined process of obtaining local franchises across the country. As analog broadcasting is phased out, local TV stations are hoping that they will be able to deliver multiple digital channels under the same must-carry rules as before. Both groups are up against the lobbying and market forces of the cable operators.

Barrett said that while cable networks were initially built on the backs of local TV stations, these same cable operators are now reluctant to carry additional digital content from the local community. Meanwhile, the telcos are pushing ahead with a switched video architecture that gives them the ability to carry a huge number of potential channels. Local TV stations already produce video programming of interest to the local community, and in times or emergencies, such as the recent hurricanes, provide a vital public information role. Barrett said for telcos to partner with local television partners would be good public policy and make good business sense.


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