Belo Splits TV and Newspaper: End of Cross Media?

Belo’s decision to split up its TV and newspaper/Web properties makes sense — if you are on Wall Street. TV stations and newspapers have different growth dynamics right now, and there are tax implications too.

Is Belo writing off the convergence of TV stations and newspapers too soon? Belo and other media conglomerates (i.e., Media General, Gannett, Tribune and The Oklahoman) have worked their heads off, trying to get the convergence thing going in the newsroom. They’ve also had expert teams flying around the country to make it happen.They’ve also tried to cross-sell. TV stations theoretically have better inroads to car dealers, while newspapers theoretically have better ties with retail, health care and other categories. And the intersection of all this has been the Web sites.

But none of it has made much of a difference. Ultimately, there have been different user expectations, ad reps, editorial standards and promotional oomph.

Kelly Dyer Fry, VP of Multimedia at The Oklahoman, has had one of the more successful relationships with the local TV station, which is KWTV News 9, owned by Griffin Communications, an Oklahoma media powerhouse.

I called Dyer Fry to talk about Belo, thinking she’d tell me that Belo was giving in too soon. Wrong! In fact, The Oklahoman is breaking off its Web relationship with News9, come January 1.

The Oklahoman has had a great relationship with News9 for six or seven years, and News9 has certainly held up its end of the relationship, says Dyer Fry. The TV stations promotional oomph has been especially appreciated. But speaking generally, newspapers really overlap with TV stations more and more.

Dyer Fry notes that The Oklahoman already has 11 video personnel, and is adding three more. We have a ways to go before we can cover breaking news on-site like TV stations, but our industry is still evolving. As for advertising, our joined forces have served us well. Both entities have strong relationships with advertisers.

Going forward, Dyer Fry said TV stations, newspapers and pure Web plays will all be going after local markets. “Newspapers have more feet on the street, but we don’t have helicopters and satellite trucks. We will continue our editorial partnership with NEWS9 because that best serves the readers/viewers in our market.”

It would be different if The Oklahoman owned the TV station, says Dyer Fry. She notes Gannett’s AZ Republic does very well working with Gannett’s Phoenix TV affiliate. Dallas and some of the other Belo markets also have co-owned TV and newspaper stations. But The Oklahoman does not have a co-owned situation.

Also weighing in on TV and newspaper convergence is The San Diego Union Tribune’s VP of Internet Chris Jennewein. Forcing TV and newspapers together has resulted in “artificial convergence of different corporate divisions,” says Jennewein.

Jennewein notes that both TV and newspapers will “evolve in different ways, with TV doing more and more on the Web and newspapers doing more and more with video on the Web. This split will encourage a true convergence of media techniques.”

Note: This post has been revised after complaints that the original version did not reflect the positive relationship that The Oklahoman has had with News 9. I regret if any comments were taken out of context. 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kelly Fry

    For those of you who know me, you know I have been one of the biggest, if not THE biggest supporter of convergence. When you combine the strength of two newsrooms and the push of dual mediums, it’s a homerun. I have the utmost respect for NEWS9 and I think our partnership set the standard on many levels. When Peter and I spoke, I addressed the disruptive changes within both industries. The web is the common meeting ground for these two delivery platforms. As we move toward the future, our needs will continue to evolve and overlap. I still think a sole owner within a market is best served with a combined site. In our situation, we had two owners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight − 2 =