TV is not the Phone Book
What’s the difference between the yellow pages and television? There was an old adage in advertising, back when the Yellow Pages was a relevant advertising medium: Folks don’t pleasure-read the phone book. But they do use TV for entertainment. In short, one of these media contains data. The other contains art. (Or, lack thereof.)
“Television” contains light. Yes, the transmission of light; but also, television broadcasts enlightenment (at least in theory, if not always in practice). TV is simultaneously the container for art – just as the YP was/is a container for data (supplanted by Search) – as well as the physical container itself. These containers will continue to exist in some form, whether they are a 70″ DLP in the living room, or a 7″ tablet in the palm of someone’s hand.*
What inspires this article? It’s a tweet by Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky), in which he asks: “Newspaper cos buying TV in 2013 is so cute. Like buying yellow pages cos in 1990s, what could go wrong, other than everything?“ Of course, it’s a valid point! From a business sense, these acquisitions may make no sense whatsoever. And Paul may not have been comparing the two mediums; simply the acts of buying the different companies. After all, what does a NEWSPAPER company know about TELEVISION??? An agreeable argument.
But if one media contains “art” and the other contains data, is there a sufficient difference to merit the speculation that perhaps buying a TV station makes more sense than buying a phone book? Earlier this week, it was reported in AdNews (LINK) that Tribune bought Local TV Holdings, LLC. There’s a single key word to note in the name of the acquired company … LOCAL. That is, the stations are local; and they are affiliates. Affiliate content is a somewhat capricious variable. Is it worth anything? Yes. How much? …. well, …. depends if it is CSI or American Idol or Beyond the Dome … OR local News. [About affiliates | Wikipedia.]
Local is everything. Everybody acts local (whether we think Global or not LINK). Social interaction happens locally; politics happens locally; commerce functions locally; … The News that appears on affiliates is mostly local. The weather is local. The sports are local. Local High Schools; local colleges; local little leagues … local festivals, fairs, farmers’ markets … local celebrations, tragedies, anniversaries, obituaries ….
Notice this story has nothing at all to do with “appointment TV”. Appointment viewing is likely dead. But it’s simply one method of presentation. The media isn’t dead, dying or even sick – in the way Google so swiftly killed YP. … Don’t be evil??? Okay.
The debate will go on … thankfully! Thanks for the tweet, Paul
*For a unique exploration of light, take a look at James Turrell at the Guggenheim (LINK).
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Do you see a twit in your TV?