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Local TV Affiliates Threatened by the Internet

Greg Sandoval looks at the growing fear among local TV stations that their livelihood is at risk in part due to the rise of the Internet.

With the national networks pushing more of their content online, and some, such as NBC, Fox and CBS, involved in building their own online video channels.

“Plenty of people are worried,” said Richard Jones, general manager of Bay City Television in San Diego, which oversees the Fox affiliate in San Diego. “It’s still so new nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen. But there is some real concern about shows that have been seen a lot of times on the Web and whether it will affect ratings.”

Add to the mix, new threats from services such as YouTube, Slingbox and Joost, and you can bet your local affiliate is just a little concerned that some of the $75 billion spent on TV advertising could slip through their fingers.

From my own experience, there’s hope. I’m in talks with one local affiliate that has hopes of building their own online presence, making them less reliant on you watching that actual glowing tube in your living room. I’ve been putting together some ideas for how they can take advantage of local content and make their web portal as valuable as their actual TV channel. That’s about all I can say at this stage, without giving the game away to their competitors.