Joe Dorrego


[ 00:00:19 ] Look I think there is always a little bit of that struggle between the creative side and the business side at the end of the day you want to run a profitable business but you realize you do have to go out and take calculated risks in terms of launching new programs. You know from my perspective I am not a creative guy. I’m a finance guy so I do lean heavily on the other executives at Fox television stations that handle the creative and you know a lot of times will just sit together in a room will discuss the upside potential risks and we’ll reach a mutual decision. But there’s a lot of collaboration involved as you’d imagine because you essentially don’t ever want to have a finance guy figuring out what shows should be on TV. Yeah I think for us if you look at what how we program our stations a vast majority of our programming is local news. So that’s kind of that. We already know that that’s a program that has longevity and you know given the state of affairs today we’ll continue to have longevity. Local Sports is another product that we have a lot on our air so there’s not much question there. I think when the question does arise it’s really when we look at new first run syndication. So for us this year we launched page 6 television. But the question becomes well. How much do you want to get behind it. And we do we get behind it but we try to structure the deals that are fairly short term in nature. So in two or three years time you have some flexibility to change your programming lineup if you feel like the is not working. Yes. I think on sports deals you certainly want them longer term and to the extent you can get an exclusive you look to do that. So really programming that’s proving its value that shows sustain ratings shows a large predictable sustained audience.

[ 00:02:36 ] Again local news not the same size audience as sports but certainly large predictable audiences so you’re comfortable with that. It’s really the new programs that you want to limit your risk so to speak but you also generally work out the deals so if you want to renew you have the first right to do so.

[ 00:03:05 ] I think certainly it’s something that we constantly look at the ad load on our programming. You have a lot of control over that especially in local news and the first run syndicated programming local sports the ad loads are kind of built in so the NFL is kind of a traditional ad load that hasn’t really changed even though even there there’s some experimentation where you may do a split screen where you have some advertising on one side but you still have a live shot of what’s going on at the stadium on the screen.

[ 00:03:37 ] So there I think there’s going to be what you’ll see is a lot of experimentation. Tonsure where that you’re not burdening the audience too much with an ad load and losing. I think where the bigger risk comes in is on the general entertainment side because that’s really the type of programming that people would go to a Netflix or a Hulu for and sit down and watch it from beginning to end without interruption. So there I think what you’re seeing really more at the national level is product integration things of that trying to monetize advertising that way in an effort to be able to reduce the ad load that somebody would sit and view at home.

[ 00:04:28 ] I agree. But I think luckily sitting on the broadcast television side with local television stations these these are still must have networks for most pay-TV platforms. You know it’s it’s much easier to give up a second or third tier cable network that has a very niche audience and say I’m going to give up. I’m not going to carry CBS I’m not going to carry Fox. You know there’s between the sports the local news and the programming these networks are must have. And what’s interesting is if you look at total viewership about 40 percent of total viewership. Is on the backs of the broadcast networks yet the broadcast networks only garner about 15 percent of the cable subscription rate you were to look at what Comcast pays all the cable networks and purses the television stations the cable networks are over indexing on their rate versus viewership while the broadcast networks are under indexing currently. Look I think there there is some of that. I mean the number of programming options today are much greater than they were ever. And as you’d imagine the quality of programming is you know runs that same scale. What I think what you see are a lot of the cable networks are investing more in high quality programming so the programming that you would see on an eFax or an AMC today is is very high quality versus if you were to look at a cable gen entertainment show 15 years ago you know from a local television perspective we actually try to focus more on live topical shows so if we’re not broadcasting local news or sports we’re trying to fill those hours with shows that are you know nationally syndicated first run shows like A TMZ or a page six television shows that are topical and relevant and hopefully complimentary to the news. And the other programming and the sports that we have on the network Yeah look I think we are certainly when you compare us to a Facebook or a Google we certainly don’t have the same level of data that they do that they can offer.

[ 00:07:11 ] NTSC 3.0 does promise that you would have that ability but I think there’s also existing technology today that if you have a web enabled smart television you’d be able to get much better data of people what people are viewing versus traditional Nielsen rating. So you know certainly. There I would believe there is upside. I do believe ATSI 3.0 will create new opportunities. What those are. I don’t know yet but I would imagine there’s new business models that could come out of that.

[ 00:07:56 ] Yeah look at it. It all goes back to really determining what type of programming you want to put on the air that you believe will keep your station relevant for us. The focus maintains is.

[ 00:08:12 ] Staes live topical programming. The more that you have that the better off we believe will be because that’s the type of programming that somebody someday is not DVR in tonight’s five o’clock news and saying you know what I’m going to watch it next Monday. So it’s DVR proof it’s alive. Predictable audience but it just goes into you know it’s very judgmental and you do a little bit of a cost benefit analysis of what the upside is. You know there’s always a risk that it costs more than the ultimate benefit. When I say live topical it’s some of it is recorded so some of the first run syndication is dên date focused but it may have been recorded you know a day in advance two days in advance and cut. But we have the experience of doing live programming whether it’s us producing local news live on a daily basis we’re producing like 900 hours of live news a week across it across a group. So I would say. We are very comfortable producing live programming but if nothing else you want to present programming that appears to be live.

[ 00:09:39 ] Well for us it actually works to our benefit because you know I think when you hear about fake news a lot of it’s national news whether it’s a cable news network. So the more noise about the fake news and news that skews left or right it actually benefits local news organizations because I think audiences kind of still view us as old fashioned which isn’t necessarily a great thing but old fashion is also in the sense that if they want straight news that’s where you turn. You know during the hurricane in Houston we went live local news coverage on our FOX station for 150 hours straight without commercial interruption. And I think a lot of people especially the people in Houston turned into that tuned into that coverage because they wanted to know what areas were being flooded where they needed to be where they had to go versus tuning into a cable news network who may be talking about Melania Trump wearing the wrong type of shoe to flood area.

[ 00:10:47 ] Yeah I think it depends on the market. You know certainly markets where the news leader the more news you put on the air generally the better off you are.

[ 00:10:58 ] People tune in. It’s it’s we control the costs of producing the news. And as a Fox affiliate there’s really only two hours that the network fills for us so there’s another 22 hours in the day that we can program. So you know I think on average are Fox television stations broadcast nine hours of local news per weekday. And we were in some markets where it’s you know getting up near 12 hours a day and we have some markets where even when you’re not broadcasting news on the air we do kind of a live stream online that we can point people to. So we are adapting to that environment. And for us it’s actually good business and generally profitable programming for us. I think when it comes from a financial perspective I think a lot of times when when people think about local television they kind of think of it as kind of old fashioned sleepy business. It’s a it’s not Google it’s not Amazon it’s not Facebook. But I think what people miss is it’s actually a very resilient business. I think it’s still and I know it’s still a very profitable business it still generates a tremendous amount of cash flow and we’re serving a need in the marketplace that really no cable network can provide the local focus of our stations are a huge draw for the audience. It’s like going back to the Houston example. They want to know what’s happening in their neighborhood. They’re going to tune in to the station that they trust. You know I would prefer to be number one in all of our markets and local news. We’re not. But you know certainly you’re providing that service.

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Backstage Conversation Season: 2017