January 29, 2004
Belo executive says localism is key to success for television broadcasters
San Antonio, TX -- Robert G. McGann, president and general manager of KENS-TV, the CBS affiliate owned by Belo Corp. (NYSE:BLC), told FCC Commissioners at a public hearing Wednesday that localism is the key to his station's success, and that additional incentives are not necessary to promote local-interest programming by broadcasters.
The Federal Communications Commission organized the hearing as part of a series of events across the country, where they are gathering empirical data and grassroots information on broadcast localism. McGann was one of several speakers who addressed the Commissioners; he also answered questions from members of the community.
"We believe at KENS that a local television station must allocate a significant portion of its broadcast week to news and other non-entertainment programming. This is a critical aspect of localism, which is functioning well in San Antonio," McGann said in his remarks. "During a recent week, KENS broadcast 39 hours of non-entertainment programming, amounting to 23.2 percent of its total weekly broadcast program hours."
McGann said the station's management routinely meets with community leaders and organizations, and conducts an annual market survey asking citizens for the local issues of importance to them. Information gathered through these outreach efforts contributes to the station's local programming decisions.
He said KENS has worked hard to be responsive to the San Antonio community, both in providing the city with multiple media outlets and in providing community groups with access to the airwaves. He noted that KENS had partnered to create the city's first 24-hour local cable news channel, as well as the city's most popular local news Web site, My SanAntonio.com. And he highlighted examples of KENS featuring community leaders and organizations on its programs and in public service announcements.
McGann concluded, "Localism is driven in every American television market by two powerful and historically entrenched principles. First, is the principle of community service, which is a long-established hallmark of local television stations ... Second, is the principle of economics. There are strong economic incentives, in the form of advertising dollars, which reward the top-rated stations in a market, those which provide the most-watched local news. We do not need any additional incentives to continue to serve localism. Localism is what we are about. It is the business of local television."
KENS, channel 5 in San Antonio, used its digital broadcast signal to multicast the four-hour FCC hearing live on digital channel 5.2. At the same time, viewers could watch regular KENS/CBS programming on digital channel 5.1. Through digital multicasting, KENS splits its digital broadcast signal into multiple channels that simultaneously deliver high-definition television, additional programming and a variety of services.
The FCC hearings could also be viewed on the 24-hour cable channel News 9 San Antonio, a partnership between Belo and Time Warner Cable, and on Belo's Texas Cable News.
For more information or a transcript of McGann's remarks, please contact Scott Baradell, Belo's vice president/Corporate Communications, at 214-977-2067.
Belo Corp. is one of the nation's largest media companies with a diversified group of market-leading television, newspaper, cable and interactive media assets. A Fortune 1000 company with approximately 7,800 employees and $1.4 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates news and information franchises in some of America's most dynamic markets and regions, including Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, Rhode Island, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Belo owns 19 television stations (six in the top 15 markets) reaching 13.8 percent of U.S. television households; owns or operates 10 cable news channels; and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo's daily newspapers include The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). Belo Interactive's new media businesses include more than 30 Web sites, several interactive alliances, and a broad range of Internet-based products. Additional information, including earnings releases, is available online at www.belo.com.