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Profile: John Duggin Sr.

Jul 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: President and CEO of Digital System Technology in Irwindale, Calif.
Background: Mr. Duggin started in the video business in 1979 and worked in sales and operations. He also worked for Philips as VP, sales, Americas, and left in 1995 to launch his company DST, which is a system integrator. DST designs, builds and procures and installs equipment for broadcasters.
The company’s clients are largely broadcasters but include some corporations.
Making money: “All the money [broadcasters] spend to go digital is not going to bring them anymore eyeballs, so you have to figure out how to save money while spending money,” he said. The biggest expenses for broadcasters are personnel and programming. A station can’t eliminate programming but can reduce personnel, he said. “No one really wants to say that, but it’s the bottom line,” he said.
Automation has become a popular way to accomplish that goal. “If you can put master control switches in one location, you have fewer people running the show,” he said. Robotic cameras allow a station to reduce the number of camera operators from perhaps four or five in a top 20 market to one. “Camera operators cost $50,000 to $60,000 a year, and you can buy one robotic camera at $300,000. It doesn’t take long to save the money,” he said.
Centralcasting: Stations must cut staff to realize the payoff of centralcasting, he said. “Centralcasting is not about equipment but about a philosophy on how to run a station. For centralcasting to work it has to come from the top. Senior management has to believe that centralcasting will save them money, and they have to convince people down the line that it’s a good thing,” Mr. Duggin said. The biggest cost associated with centralcasting is the transport of the signal from the hub to the spoke, and some stations in a group are simply too far away from each other to justify the transport costs for centralcasting, he said. Most important, stations need to cut staff to achieve a return on investment with centralcasting. “If you have a station manager who doesn’t get rid of his people, it won’t work. It’s a very difficult thing to get done,” he said.