John Malone: The Local TV Model Does Not Work Anymore, and Here’s Why; He Also Says Maybe the NBC Affiliates Need to Approve the Comcast Deal

Nov 23, 2009  •  Post A Comment

John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media and one of the most astute observers of media in the last 20 years, says the business model that supports local TV is broken and doesn’t work.

Malone was interviewed on CNBC today and our friend Harry Jessell of TVNewsCheck has a terrific write-up of the interview: " ‘The big issue is localism,’  Malone said. ‘It’s about broadcast affiliates locally, whether or not that model is viable.’

"According to Malone, the model is not viable: ‘Don’t work,’ he said.

"The networks will have to either subsidize their affiliates or dump them and become cable networks."

Jessell also quotes Malone as saying: "Maybe two of these guys [broadcast networks] just become cable networks and two of them end up with retrans and support localism," and  "There are just too many advertising-driven businesses in the local marketplace to be viable, given the siphoning off of revenue [by the Internet]."

Stirring the pot as he sometimes like to do, Malone also suggests that the issue of localism may become so charged that the government may insist that the NBC affiliates approve the Comcast deal before the government signs off on it, Jessell reports.

–Chuck Ross

To see the actual CNBC interview, click here.


  1. We all know how meaningful localism was for the primetime access rule (PTAR) a few decades back. Stations begged for local time but only Group W did any local programming. It was a field day for Sandy Frank.
    But a government that thinks it can spend its way to prosperity is capable of thinking anything.

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