[opendtv] Re: Sinclair Launches Original Programming Division | Broadcasting & Cable

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2014 09:25:28 -0400

Thanks for surfacing and providing this insight.

There are MANY theories about what the politicians and regulators are doing as 
it relates to the future of communications in the United States. I believe 
there are a few assumptions we can make that have a high probability of being 

1. It’s about the money stupid - the spectrum is a highly valuable asset that 
can easily be monetized. The “deal" with broadcasters was quite valuable when 
it was conceived, as the technology available at the time was limited AND 
analog. It is rather obvious that the content conglomerates and the politicians 
have a very cozy relationship that will continue to thrive, WHATEVER the 
technologies used to deliver the SOMA. It is also obvious that OTA broadcasting 
is no longer critical to the mission, and there are others willing to pay far 
more for the spectrum in return for protection of their oligopolies.

2. OTA broadcasters have played a minor role in the development of content. 
They have acted more as privileged middlemen, able to derive very high levels 
of profitability distribution other peoples content. The main exception has 
been local news, however, there are more providers than viewers, and 
consolidation is inevitable, as we have seen with newspapers. Add to this the 
ability to access all kinds of news on demand via cable and digital networks, 
and it is clear that the value of the local news franchise has been diminished. 

3. Broadcasters have not broadly embraced digital networking technologies and 
the ability to access content on demand. The one bright spot for both the 
networks operated by the content congloms and for local broadcasters is LIVE 
programming that viewers are willing to make appointments for, especially 
sports. The fact that local broadcasters do not own the rights for the 
programming they carry has limited their ability to compete, while the content 
owners are free to develop new distribution strategies for this content with 
new “partners.”

4. With respect to the digital transition, OTA broadcasters BLEW IT. The 
pending spectrum auction is not what threatens to kill OTA broadcasting; it was 
the decision to develop (AND MANDATE) a DTV standard as a defensive barrier 
rather than an offensive weapon. 

I am reminded of an event that took place in Las Vegas more than a decade ago, 
where Sinclair played a critical role in a technology demonstration of mobile 
television. Those who attended that OpenDTV forum saw first hand that OFDM was 
capable of delivering OTA TV to a “tablet like” device. The defensive strategy 
certainly flattened out the End Of product Life curve for broadcast television, 
but it kept broadcasters out of a game that they had the power to dominate. 

Now Mark tells us that competitors will use their political clout and 
established infrastructure to deploy a new broadcast standard that is 
compatible with the hundreds of millions of mobile devices that consumers use 

Perhaps it is not too late.

Content is still king, and there are still opportunities to build businesses 
around the ability to create and distribute it. 

I was not able to read the entire paper that Mark cited, but one thing stands 
out in terms of optimization of the LTE-A / eMBMS technology. It appears to 
work better with wider bandwidth channels than those currently being used by 
broadcasters. The telcos will be free to deploy new spectrum efficiently, while 
broadcasters are (currently) limited to 6 MHz channels. This suggests that the 
“Spectrum Utility” idea that has surfaced from time to time in this forum may 
be the salvation of OTA broadcasting…


On Sep 5, 2014, at 6:37 AM, Mark Aitken <MAitken@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Been buried…survival requires real work! Craig, I hope you are not surprised 
> that we are trying to survive. ;-) Been the motive for a long time…
> The world of entertainment is changing quickly…Comcast/TW…AT&T/DirecTV. What 
> will be the next move? Verizon will respond, but how? Will they turn to 
> Network and work the acquisition engine towards new levels of market control?
> Hint…there is only one reason the carriers want 600MHz spectrum…BROADCAST! 
> LTE-A / eMBMS is the weapon they will use. The physics of spectrum 
> propagation and reuse leads to no other conclusion. For you IEEE members, 
> Kent Walker published an excellent paper that draws the picture and same 
> conclusions. http://tinyurl.com/lcr7tes
> Anyone think the FCC Broadcast Incentive Auction was anything except an 
> attempt to kill us?
> So…yes, survival. A fully occupying business for those that wish to live. 
> Craig, thanks for noticing…
> Mark
> From: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On 
> Behalf Of Craig Birkmaier
> Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 5:56 PM
> To: OpenDTV Mail List
> Subject: [opendtv] Sinclair Launches Original Programming Division | 
> Broadcasting & Cable
> Looks like this broadcaster wants to survive...
> Regards
> Craig
> http://broadcastingcable.com/news/local-tv/sinclair-launches-original-programming-division/133353
> Sinclair Launches Original Programming Division | Broadcasting & Cable
> Sinclair Broadcast Group has launched Sinclair Original Programming (SOP), a 
> division devoted to the development of entertainment and business-to-consumer 
> content. Arthur Hasson will be chief operating officer and leader of the 
> division, reporting to David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair. Hasson 
> will continue as general manager of Sinclair's stations in Harrisburg.
> Initially, shows will be developed for the growing broadcaster’s MyNetworkTV 
> and CW affiliates and will air in primetime and afternoon time periods on the 
> weekend. The business-to-consumer content includes infomercials.  
> Sinclair closed on its Allbritton acquisition earlier this summer, and 
> announced a new, considerably smaller batch of acquisitions stemming from the 
> Media General-LIN merger. It reaches 38.2% of U.S. television households, 
> including pending transactions.
> "Combining content ownership with our premier distribution spectrum of 
> over-the-air television and related digital/web platforms is one of the last 
> key components in securing the value of our platform," said Smith. 
> "Controlling our content and its development not only reduces our dependency 
> on others, providing a hedge against network disruptions, but allows us 
> greater economic upside potential.”
> Sinclair’s original programming includes station-level news, Ring of Honor 
> Wrestling and the recently launched American Sports Network.
> “The media landscape is evolving and controlling distribution, as well as the 
> content delivered through that platform, is even more imperative in order to 
> remain competitive,” said Smith.
> From 2009 to 2011, Hasson was cocreator and executive producer of Crowd 
> Sourced Hero, Subway® High School Heroes and various other entertainment 
> programs. Prior to that, he was COO and cofounder of music creation software 
> firm ClubCreate. From 1990 through 2005, he held various roles at 
> NBCUniversal Television Distribution.
> “By developing original content in connection with talented program 
> producers, we can provide cost effective, flexible projects that can be 
> readily monetized,” said Hasson. “In addition, we believe there is potential 
> to distribute shows beyond our platforms both domestically and 
> internationally. From the creative side, our large footprint of stations 
> allows us to test concepts and talent efficiently."
> Bill Butler, VP of programming and promotion, will continue to manage the 
> syndicator and studio relationships, among other duties.  

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