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TV stations can only grow their Internet businesses by leveraging their local credentials and focusing on vertical categories such as automotive and health. That’s the word from Internet Broadcasting‘s president and CEO, David Lebow, the former AOL Media Networks exec who was interviewed by TV NewsCheck’s Harry Jessell.

Minneapolis-based IB, which is partially owned by Hearst Television, Post-Newsweek Stations and McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, has aggressively pushed TV stations in new directions for advertising and content. This has especially been the case as many stations have now taken on their own Web site development, a former strong point for the company. The company also provides a national ad network.

“Whether the advertiser is a local car dealership or a national advertiser that’s looking to reach people in a certain geography, there is no doubt that all arrows point to local,” Lebow told Jessell. “All advertisers are looking to have a better local presence and target the consumer as close to the purchase decision as possible.”

One advantage that broadcasters have is their ability to produce content — something we‘ve just seen this week with the launch of TheLaw.TV. That’s critical as stations branch out to serve online and other digital channels, says Lebow.

“They need to have enough vertical content — health content or auto content, say — to satisfy advertisers,” Lebow says. “In a world of specialists, we see a world where a station might have four or five different sites in a market based on certain verticals. We see that with our partners who are verticalizing their weather now.”

Lebow also says that the networks ultimately can prove complementary to the needs of local broadcasters. CNN, for instance, “is a national brand and they have a content sharing and distribution agreement through Newsource with many local television stations. They have a great understanding of what it is that the local station is the expert on and where they can add value. They’ve really figured out how national and local work together on content.”

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