ABC Affiliate Chief Seeking Partnership

Oct 12, 2008  •  Post A Comment

McGraw-Hill Broadcasting President Darrell Brown assumed the chairmanship of the board of governors of the ABC affiliates with a mandate: Reiterate to ABC that there is strength to be found for both sides in a genuine partnership between the network and its affiliates.
“The network can forge ahead on their own like many of them do on some fronts, and the message that, as a body of affiliates, we’ve tried to deliver is, ‘Look, we’ve been partners all these years. We have a vested interest in the network and the affiliate body remaining strong. We think there’s value on both sides,” Mr. Brown said in a phone conversation last week. “‘Let’s have that conversation as these different opportunities come up.’”
“That’s the dance that I think not only we play but it’s the same for every affiliate-network relationship,” Mr. Brown said.
During the board’s Sept. 18 Web conference gathering, Bill Fine, president and general manager of Hearst-Argyle’s WCVB-TV in Boston, moved up to vice chairman and Bill Hoffman, VP and general manager of Cox Television’s WSB-TV in Atlanta, became secretary-treasurer. John Tamerlano, VP and general manager of Fisher Communications’ KATU-TV in Portland, Ore., and Kevin Lovell, general manager of News-Press & Gazette Company’s KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, joined the affiliates’ executive panel.
Previous affiliates board Chairman Ray Cole, president and chief operating officer of Citadel Communications, remains on the board.
Mr. Brown was promoted to president of McGraw-Hill Broadcasting in July. He had been named VP and general manager of KMGH-TV, one of the company’s four ABC affiliates, and Azteca America Colorado in Denver, in November 2003. He joined McGraw-Hill in 1983 at KGTV in San Diego.
Mr. Brown said continuing to work with ABC to find new business opportunities is at the top of the agenda. He cited past cooperative successes such as shared participation in the ABC online video player, as well as the player’s application to video-on-demand.
“That’s our interest at this point: How do we take the assets of both parties and create something that could be stronger,” he said. The new board chairman is hopeful that ABC, as the owner of 10 local TV stations itself, is more empathetic about the pain that the economic downturn has inflicted on local TV stations. He’s counting on that empathy to make the network more open to affiliates’ concerns and suggestions.
“Clearly, all the networks are bracing for a much different upfront in April of 2009. I think they have their financial struggles as well,” Mr. Brown said, noting that with its base in California, where the housing market is collapsing, ABC is familiar with the economic crunch up close.
“We have two stations in our small group in California, and we feel the impact of the housing crunch out there and just the overall downturn in the economy,” the McGraw-Hill executive said.

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