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The fight for local content

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The fight for local content

Opinions expressed in thispiece are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of SNLKagan.

Technologyis threatening broadcast TV.

Already,for MVPDs the smart money is in broadband. Companies like and are makingmore investments in digital delivery, content and advertising than they are inthe traditional cable or the broadcast TV vertical.

Eventually,broadcast networks like ABC, NBC and CBS could abandon broadcast altogether.The same may be true for cable TV providers.

"Ifyou're an ABC, a content creator, how much do you need the [broadcast] outlet?There's going to be a tipping point where you don't need the outlet,"Transform Digital COO Randa Minkarah said during a May 5 Digital Hollywoodpanel. Her company is a provider of data and document conversionservices.

Thereis much being said today on data collection for video and figuring out how tocollect viewer data through broadcast channels, as broadcast is not a naturalfit for hyper-granular data collection and application. As themarket evolves more and more toward internet protocol delivery, broadcasterscould feel a sting.

"You'regoing to see disintermediation. You're going to see changes," Minkarahsaid. "Broadcasters will get hurt."

Butexactly how badly hurt, no one was quite sure.

Thelaws that could deliver local broadcasts over digital channels so far favor thenetworks and resist any digital aggregation, FilmOn Chief Content Officer KimHurwitz said during the panel. Her company is currently under litigation fortrying to do just that — aggregate over-the-air broadcast channels for digitaldelivery. It is also attempting to get status as an MVPD, so it can more easilydeliver TV content on its platform.

Thecourt battle comes at a time when the FCC has been historically amenable toalternative, digital solutions, even if the courts are not so.

Hurwitzsaid she and her colleagues met with the FCC less than two years ago, and "thecommissioners were very open to players such as ourselves. They feel it servesthe consumers. They feel there needs to be some extra outlet in the [industry]considering all the mega-mergers."

ButFilmOn might not need the MVPD classification anyway. It may abandon thebroadcast content altogether and focus on the increasingly lucrative businessof niche video content.

"Thatwhole experiment doing broadcast channels was proof of concept for us,"she said. "We just wanted a seat at the table."

Iflocal broadcast television does become outmoded, at risk are important consumerassets like local news, sports and other content — the kind of programming thatmakes up the information backbone of many communities. A threat to local broadcastis a threat to the efficiency of democracy, the panelists argued.

"Ithink the local news and local TV stations … are still critical. People stilllive in their old neighborhoods, their old cities, and they want it. And thatincludes local commercials, local advertising from local businesses,"Yahav Isak, executive vice president at creative marketing agency Manifest,said during the panel.

Heargued that not only will local content be protected in a major shift toInternet video delivery, it will be coveted.

Granted,producing local news is perhaps the most expensive endeavor for a localaffiliate, but there is too much demand to let it fall away completely. Thereare plenty of interests in providing robust local experiences. Every techcompany from Twitter Inc.and Facebook Inc. toAlphabet Inc. andAmazon.com Inc. istrying to solve the local puzzle. While local broadcast is not the bestdelivery mechanism for local data, local data has never been more in demand.

Acompany will never be able to truly target an individual if it doesn'tunderstand their surroundings, their favorite local businesses and mostinvolved local issues and politics.