Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Behold: my big 3 local media predictions

2010 will be a year of insane change in the media world. If you're reading this in the greater Twin Cities area I'll venture out on a limb here and say that the once-venerable Star-Tribune will suffer more than it did in the previous year. There will be a few more layoffs but the big news will be the sale of their print operations. Yes, there will still be a printed newspaper but they will be able to save a few bucks by outsourcing their printing. Look for Media News Group/Pioneer Press, Gannett or - and this one is a longshot - Forum Communications to further consolidate and shuffle operations to absorb the printing of the Star-Tribune.

Even with the glut of changes I see ahead in 2010 this one will be the biggest. It will also mark the beginning of the rise of smaller operators with little to no debt load cautiously taking on larger ventures and finding success. They are used to operating with almost microscopic staffing and making relative miracles happen so this sort of change is a logical happening.

Being a bit of a media junkie, I also see a bunch of other changes including further gutting of Clear Channel radio stations (locally Kool 108, K102, KDWB, Cities 97, KTLK, KFAN and The Score 690) and maybe even an outright sale because, as things are now, they are on the brink of bankruptcy and are one of those companies who are too large to survive as opposed to banks who were billed as too large to fail. But if Clear Channel sells some, plenty or all of its radio stations who's buying? Radio does still work but it needs an immense rethinking to survive. Of course AM radio was written off a couple decades back but it survives today with sports and political talk so radio's future may not be so bleak after all. Their biggest problem is debt. Buyers need to remember they are buying some equipment, an antenna and a license - the revenue is not part of the package.

One last local media change is a certain bastard TV station being sold or vanishing all together. Really, how many people watch WUCW (CW-23)? Outside of a few thousand people watching their 2-hour primetime network offerings, the station's programming is garbage and based on their advertisers I fail to see how they can pay any sort of staff. I realize that any money is better than none but I think that there will be some sort of consolidation here. Shuttering the WB & UPN and rolling them together was the dumbest idea since New Coke because the sum of two zeroes is still zero which is a close approximation to how many viewers the CW has. Now the "network" isn't a complete loss - they occasionally beat "The Jay Leno Show" in the ratings so why wouldn't some other network see some value in a few of the shows the network broadcasts and offer to buy the network at a fire sale price (which I'm sure would work) and use the better programs to beef up their own schedule? Even less-than-stellar new scripted episodes are better than repeats and America is slowly catching on to the fact that nearly everything that could be done in the reality arena has been done.

If even one of these predictions comes true I'll be shocked - and scared. What do you see on the horizon? Is it the grim reaper or the angel of hope? Or is it finally success for MinnPics? Let's hope for the latter because I'd like that one.


Stephanie Faris said...

It's really sad...the local TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers are gradually going away. There will be a time, I think, when everything comes from New York except a brief traffic, weather, and local news update. I'd much rather get my news locally but that option is dwindling more and more.

VE said...

Well, my blog roll starts anew tomorrow. I'd be honored if you participate again in 2010. Leave a comment and you're on the blog roll! Thanks for visiting and commenting in 2009.