Why Corporate TV Hurts Local PR

 Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had to spend upwards of two hours on two separate occasions sitting in the waiting room of a car dealership while a part was installed in my car.  The waiting room wireless connection allowed me to get some work done.  While doing so, I wound up watching Good Day New York.  It was an eye-opening experience.

I’ve booked numerous segments on Good Day New York over the years, including most recently, Michael Sullivan, author  of Necessary Heartbreak just a couple of months ago.

I’ve also done many remotes with the show, including weather segments with Mike Woods at the Meadowlands Racetrack and NJ Festival of Ballooning, among others.  I’ve always liked working with the producers at the show and look forward to continuing to do so. However, in watching the full program from the dealership it struck me that the opportunities we once had in pitching the show are starting to dwindle and a major part of it is because of the Fox corporate ownership involvement.

Corporate ownership of media properties such as Fox, ESPN and Comcast is having, and I believe will continue to have, a negative impact on local public relations efforts.  A local event now has fewer opportunities to work with a show like Good Day New York because of the station’s need to promote the corporate network’s programming.

As an example, this Thursday on Good Day New York, the show was filled with recaps from the finale of American Idol in Los Angeles where reporter Julie Chang filed live reports.  At least 10 minutes was devoted to the free taxi cab promotion that Dr. Oz was sponsoring to promote the move of his show to the 4 pm hour replacing Oprah.  It included an interview with Dr. Oz and a reporter filing a news story on the promotion.  I’m sure this air time would certainly have not been devoted to Dr. Oz if his show was on a rival network, nor would it have been deemed “news worthy” enough to warrant coverage. 

Instead, those 10 minutes could have focused on a local event in the metropolitan area and that is what hurts local publicity efforts.  You cannot fault the Good Day New York producers. A show like American Idol is paying all the bills for the network. Budget is also affecting local broadcast outlets.  Weather remotes are basically gone from all New York affiliates. It costs too much to send a truck out to stay at a remote location.

However, we are fast-approaching a day when the only voices on sports talk radio will be announcers and journalists that write or announce for the parent network; local morning shows will only feature guests from network-owned and promoted shows and unless you have an event that is tied to the affiliate’s corporate owner, you may not receive any local coverage.

Corporate TV has arrived and is making an impact.  The question is can local public relations efforts have an impact on gaining access to its local affiliates?

Tom Cosentino

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