This too shall pass

How's your station doing, economically speaking? Are sales above last year? If your station is like most other companies, times are probably tough. For
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How's your station doing, economically speaking? Are sales above last year? If your station is like most other companies, times are probably tough.

For most Broadcast Engineering readers, these are the worst economic conditions they have ever experienced. Jobs have been lost, companies and offices closed, and savings decimated. While this has yet to become the economic depression our parents experienced, it still hurts.

In a recent post to my blog, Brad on Broadcast (http://blog.broadcastengineering.com/brad), I described the effects the financial crisis is having on baby boomers. (Read the full post at http://tinyurl.com/6tdf9o). These events couldn't have come at a worse time. The boomers are nearing retirement. The savings, retirement and 401(k) accounts they spent years building have lost 40 percent or more of their value. And, unfortunately for these folks, they don't have another 20 years to replace those funds.

Headline after headline speaks about corporate cutbacks. From the car makers to coffee shops, no one is immune from layoffs, cutbacks and even shutdowns.

Does this mean we should all wring our hands and hang our heads? Is it time to simply give up or hold out our hands crying, “Bail me out!”? While I too wouldn't mind a piece of that $1 trillion Uncle Sam seems so willing to throw at banks, car makers and unions, I say, “No way!” The broadcast industry has a bright future. We will recover, and times will get better. Here's why:

First, we are just weeks from ending a highly successful 68-year run of analog transmission. Next month, this industry is launching the highest technology digital broadcast system in the world. It's capable of providing a vast array of new services, including mobile video, multiple channels and high-definition images with 5.1 channels of surround audio. The industry has spent $20 billion of private money building this new platform, and broadcasters are ready to build their futures upon it.

Second, broadcasters remain the most important link between viewers and news. Local stations are the linchpin to communicating with viewers. When it comes to providing local news and local weather with local and liked personalities, television remains king.

Yes, TV newsroom staffs are being cut back, but so what? Will your station stop producing news? No, you'll just do it differently with new technology. The world didn't end when videotape replaced film. The sky didn't fall when video servers and automation reduced the number of tape and MCR operators a TV station needed. Everyone equates bigger with better. However, a larger staff does not equate to a better staff or more productive staff.

Even if your station is reducing the number of employees, it's not going dark. It will be open for business tomorrow. I receive a ton of press releases, and not one has announced the bankruptcy of a TV station. Compare that to recent stories about the newspaper industry. Broadcasting is still one of the most vibrant businesses in which to work. The industry is not going away.

Finally, experts say that the economic turmoil like we're now experiencing occurs about every 100 years. That may not help us feel any better. But like the weather, change is coming, and the bad times in which we now find ourselves will pass.

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