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Scripps - General Discussion

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It's kinda sad to see the rapid destruction of what was once a respected broadcaster...there's nothing wrong with making digital a priority but you've gotta have a healthy balance of it along with broadcast. It's not just limited to Scripps but they are the worst when it comes to integrating broadcast and digital.

 

It already seems like broadcast is an afterthought to them. Hire the youngest most inexperienced people on-air (and force out loyal long time employees because they are basically too old), put a paywall on your stations website, dump all your syndications for cheap inhouse shows that try to list the trends now but it's executed horribly.

 

And of course KNXV drops their news director for a digital content person. I kind of find it funny that they replaced their news director with a "Digital Content Person". Not a "Digital Content Director", a "Digital Content Person".

 

Now they're dropping the assignment desk?

 

I'm once again reminded I'm glad I don't live in a Scripps market. Scripps was a much better company 5 years ago! Please somebody, buy them out already and put them out of their misery before they embarrass themselves again (and their poor employees who basically have to put up with their shenanigans)...

Splitting from SNI was the worst thing that could have ever happened to those stations. I don't really know to what end they keep cutting. It's obvious they must be VERY cash starved to keep doing it when nobody else is and then they keep merging to get more cash I assume.

 

Cuts like this are what you do in a depression... The digital whatever seems more like an excuse. They have not been at all profitable and are struggling to figure out why. Of course if they ran good stations and invested in keeping them that way they would make a heck of a lot more money. But I digress.

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Splitting from SNI was the worst thing that could have ever happened to those stations. I don't really know to what end they keep cutting. It's obvious they must be VERY cash starved to keep doing it when nobody else is and then they keep merging to get more cash I assume.

 

Cuts like this are what you do in a depression... The digital whatever seems more like an excuse. They have not been at all profitable and are struggling to figure out why. Of course if they ran good stations and invested in keeping them that way they would make a heck of a lot more money. But I digress.

 

I see where you are coming from and I sort of agree. The recession hit them hard, and they basically laid off a ton of reporters at their stations and started putting photographers in front of the camera. You could tell they were cost cutting.

 

But the recession was a wake up call for all broadcasters and most made cuts around that time, Scripps wasn't the only one. Of course the SNI spinoff happened around the same time. But I don't think they were necessarily a bad company around that time, they were still half decent.

 

I would say their destruction started around 2012 when they decided to dump syndications in favor of crappy in house productions. Yes that was a cost cutting move. I think this digital crap is basically a two edged sword, in that yes it helps them cut costs but they really think they are being innovative and different with this and really they are not. If they truly were just looking to cut costs because they weren't making a profit or whatever, then they would just follow Nexstar's lead and cut to the bone while still trying to be mostly "traditional". Instead the Scripps stations try to maintain traditional staffing levels by pushing experienced staffers out the door and replacing them with cheap, young labor and trying to shake up how things are done. (BTW yes I think Nexstar is better run than Scripps at this point)

 

I think this is Scripps way of trying to get younger viewers engaged and connected with their product (it isn't working obviously if you look at their ratings). Older viewers, the ones actually watching the news, are basically getting thrown under the bus with their newscasts. Scripps is basically telling them "we don't give a rat's ass about you, we are going after the 18-34 demo" (I think using 18-49 is a bit of stretch)...

 

BTW they wouldn't have bought Newsy and the DecodeDC podcast if they weren't looking to expand their "digital" footprint.

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If you look at other companies profits and growth they are all way higher than Scripps, especially in digital (I'm finding growth in the hundreds of percent while Scripps was only 27%). While all companies (really in any industry) cut back in the recession most of them have bounced back (broadcasters included to a lesser degree).

 

Scripps has 13 extra stations and is forecasting flat revenue and profit for the second quarter. They made a whopping $22 million profit in the first quarter plus $9.5 million from newspapers. Yuck. They've been break even like that for several years too. No matter what they do they can't make any real growth in their operations revenue and profit. I think that scares them.

 

I don't know any photographers who got put in front of the camera... I know some reporters who were made to run the camera though I'm seeing MMJ less these days. I think they are using KNXV as a guinea pig for this no news director experiment.

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It's kinda sad to see the rapid destruction of what was once a respected broadcaster...there's nothing wrong with making digital a priority but you've gotta have a healthy balance of it along with broadcast. It's not just limited to Scripps but they are the worst when it comes to integrating broadcast and digital.

 

It already seems like broadcast is an afterthought to them. Hire the youngest most inexperienced people on-air (and force out loyal long time employees because they are basically too old), put a paywall on your stations website, dump all your syndications for cheap inhouse shows that try to list the trends now but it's executed horribly.

 

And of course KNXV drops their news director for a digital content person. I kind of find it funny that they replaced their news director with a "Digital Content Person". Not a "Digital Content Director", a "Digital Content Person".

 

Now they're dropping the assignment desk?

 

I'm once again reminded I'm glad I don't live in a Scripps market. Scripps was a much better company 5 years ago! Please somebody, buy them out already and put them out of their misery before they embarrass themselves again (and their poor employees who basically have to put up with their shenanigans)...

 

Television stations are navigating something that is very important in the history of the medium.

 

The Internet has brought about an unusual convergence of technology and print, combined with the strength of social.

 

As a whole, the industry is not used to being multiplatform news outlets instead of just television stations that produce newscasts, where presenters come in front of a camera and read people the news. Convergence is just not written in a lot of stations' DNA. Exceptions are the few print-TV combos that exist (WHIO which is also a radio operation, WBNS) and radio-TV combos such as WBAL or KOMO.

 

What is happening is that television is no longer central to the production and compilation of news content. While I don't know if getting rid of the assignment desk was a wise idea, Scripps is trying something. And given the company's urgent need to finally capitalize on and monetize digital.

 

News demos are typically 25-54 for English-language stations (though Spanish-language outlets use 18-34 and 18-49 as their main metrics). Going for an 18-34 focus on a station like KNXV is guaranteed to alienate a lot of older viewers. I understand what they are trying to do, but sometimes "innovation" just goes nowhere.

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If Scripps decided to turn around and sell, who would buy them? I don't think any company can absorb them whole...

 

No way that will happen any time soon, if ever, unless something gargantuanly disastrous happened, especially when you consider the fact that Scripps and Journal have just merged. A more likely scenario is that Scripps either sells off a bunch of its station or splits up into different companies.

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Television stations are navigating something that is very important in the history of the medium.

 

The Internet has brought about an unusual convergence of technology and print, combined with the strength of social.

 

As a whole, the industry is not used to being multiplatform news outlets instead of just television stations that produce newscasts, where presenters come in front of a camera and read people the news. Convergence is just not written in a lot of stations' DNA. Exceptions are the few print-TV combos that exist (WHIO which is also a radio operation, WBNS) and radio-TV combos such as WBAL or KOMO.

 

What is happening is that television is no longer central to the production and compilation of news content. While I don't know if getting rid of the assignment desk was a wise idea, Scripps is trying something. And given the company's urgent need to finally capitalize on and monetize digital.

 

News demos are typically 25-54 for English-language stations (though Spanish-language outlets use 18-34 and 18-49 as their main metrics). Going for an 18-34 focus on a station like KNXV is guaranteed to alienate a lot of older viewers. I understand what they are trying to do, but sometimes "innovation" just goes nowhere.

 

And KNXV is one of Scripps' few stations that is actually on the upswing (given they're competing with Tinkering TEGNA, Mediocre Meredith, and a FOX O&O that doesn't take themselves too seriously, that's not much of a feat).

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The thing with Scripps is that for every one good move they make, they turn around and make ten bad ones. I'm not sure if their decisions/moves are consultant driven or if they just base them on trying to see what shit sticks on the wall, but boy they do make you scratch your head and ask why. I get the need to be at the forefront of the digital age and attract the younger audience, but they do not need to alienate one segment of the audience to reach the other. It goes to show you that they have no idea what they are doing when they have no issue alienating the older audience that consume their products. While the focus is on KNXV right now, here in San Diego, KGTV has been cleaning house left and right. In the last few months, several prominent, older talent have been pushed out the door recently. That's in addition to the other layoffs earlier in the year.

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If you look at other companies profits and growth they are all way higher than Scripps, especially in digital (I'm finding growth in the hundreds of percent while Scripps was only 27%). While all companies (really in any industry) cut back in the recession most of them have bounced back (broadcasters included to a lesser degree).

 

Scripps has 13 extra stations and is forecasting flat revenue and profit for the second quarter. They made a whopping $22 million profit in the first quarter plus $9.5 million from newspapers. Yuck. They've been break even like that for several years too. No matter what they do they can't make any real growth in their operations revenue and profit. I think that scares them.

 

I don't know any photographers who got put in front of the camera... I know some reporters who were made to run the camera though I'm seeing MMJ less these days. I think they are using KNXV as a guinea pig for this no news director experiment.

 

Scripps does have mostly low-ranked stations in their markets...most of them seem to be 3rd or 4th place stations, which may explain their financial performance.

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I agree with FTV Live here:

 

 

Answer: no. You're a TV station. Come on now. It's one thing to decide to have a larger digital presence, but to completely do away with an assignment desk, as well as 4 positions in addition to the freaking news director is absurd. "Real-Time Desk"? Sounds like a poor attempt to sound hip and cool and up-to-the-minute. I doubt the grown adults in the newsroom think that.

First, they didn't get rid of the News Director. When Chris Kline was promoted to the position they specifically said he was being promoted to the position of News Director. And, to the best of my knowledge his job title is still News Director. Yes, he was previously Director of New Media so, he comes with more of a "digital" background than others. I think the "digital person" thing was more a jab from the author. But, based on his previous work experience at least on paper he looks more than qualified for the job.

 

I think the 3 editor positions along with the web producer that were "eliminated" were just rolled up into the 10 "real-time desk" editor positions. So, they maybe had a slight change in job focus and duties.

 

I think the name "real-time desk" is dumb. They are trying too hard to be "hip" and show that news doesn't wait with that name. But, the general public knows nothing of their cutting edge "real-time desk." So, just pick a name like the "convergence desk", "content desk" or even simply "news desk" that reflects the new direction. Just dial it back a notch and stop trying so hard.

 

If you look at other companies profits and growth they are all way higher than Scripps, especially in digital (I'm finding growth in the hundreds of percent while Scripps was only 27%). While all companies (really in any industry) cut back in the recession most of them have bounced back (broadcasters included to a lesser degree).

 

Scripps has 13 extra stations and is forecasting flat revenue and profit for the second quarter. They made a whopping $22 million profit in the first quarter plus $9.5 million from newspapers. Yuck. They've been break even like that for several years too. No matter what they do they can't make any real growth in their operations revenue and profit. I think that scares them.

 

IMO, E.W. Scripps is a fiscally responsible and financially sound company. And, I think they more than hold their weight against their peers. I think their size and being a pure play (or, "near pure play") keeps them somewhat limited with what they can do and how much risk they are willing to take.

 

They just finished their double spin, double merge with Journal. Give it a little time and those extra 13 stations will start paying some dividends. But, in the short term there will be some extra expenses related to the integration.

 

And, E.W. Scripps never really properly broke out "digital" as an operating segment. So, I don't know if anyone has ever been able to get a clear picture on how well (or, poorly) their digital assets are doing. However, going forward starting with Q2 2015 there will be a "digital" operating segment.

 

I understand what they are trying to do, but sometimes "innovation" just goes nowhere.

That's very true. Sometimes you need to challenge the status quo. But, sometimes doing nothing is worse.

 

For example, on the whole most newspapers chose to do nothing. They got left behind when it comes to "digital" and now they are playing catch up. I think Scripps being rooted as a "newspaper company" knows this all too well. And, they (along with a lot of other companies) don't want to repeat that mistake when it comes to television.

 

If Scripps decided to turn around and sell, who would buy them? I don't think any company can absorb them whole...

I think the demise of Scripps is greatly exaggerated. Quite frankly they aren't going anywhere.

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The measly profits I touched on earlier were actually the final results for the pre-merger EW Scripps. We won't know as you say until the 2nd quarter results come out how they did with additional stations and lack of money draining print.

 

While they are fiscally responsible they just sit and break even. They have been for 6 or 7 years now... McGraw-Hill coming into the fold didn't boost them. Maybe this will but they are a tough financial nut to crack. I don't have my hopes up... At some point they will be forced to sell to keep afloat. These moves will catch right up with them if they continue to disinvest in their properties and sit there happy with 3rd and 4th place on a vast majority of them. I've never seen a company try as little as Scripps to grow their business.

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The measly profits I touched on earlier were actually the final results for the pre-merger EW Scripps. We won't know as you say until the 2nd quarter results come out how they did with additional stations and lack of money draining print.

 

While they are fiscally responsible they just sit and break even. They have been for 6 or 7 years now... McGraw-Hill coming into the fold didn't boost them. Maybe this will but they are a tough financial nut to crack. I don't have my hopes up... At some point they will be forced to sell to keep afloat. These moves will catch right up with them if they continue to disinvest in their properties and sit there happy with 3rd and 4th place on a vast majority of them. I've never seen a company try as little as Scripps to grow their business.

 

Let's be honest. I really don't think that adding the Journal stations in the mix will help profits at all- not with all the expenses they will be taking on. These are not #1 stations, they are are as NS8401 pointed out, 3rd or 4th place stations. Plus they will need some resources poured into them, just like the former McGraw-Hill stations. And just look at how that turned out... as soon as they don't produce to their liking after they have invested in them, they then start cutting back. Scripps needs to stick to a sound plan and give it time, and not sidetrack itself with these gimmicky stunts/programs/ideas/products that they come up with or invest in. Frankly, I'm surprised that Brian Lawlor still has a job with the company seeing as that many of the stations he oversees are at the bottom of barrel.

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Lets see what happens now that the Incentive Auction list is out. Scripps (and others) will be looking at that quick and dirty "cash out".`

 

If Scripps is serious about putting digital first...than why wouldn't they cash out a few low rated stations and convert them to virtual 'stations" as part of the Grand Digi-Plan?

 

Let them be the pioneers, and let the gubmnt give them the operating cash for the big experiment.

 

The entire dynamic is about to "be" changed forever based on this upcoming auction.

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Lets see what happens now that the Incentive Auction list is out. Scripps (and others) will be looking at that quick and dirty "cash out".`

 

If Scripps is serious about putting digital first...than why wouldn't they cash out a few low rated stations and convert them to virtual 'stations" as part of the Grand Digi-Plan?

 

Let them be the pioneers, and let the gubmnt give them the operating cash for the big experiment.

 

The entire dynamic is about to "be" changed forever based on this upcoming auction.

 

Scripps already said in an investor conference call (or whatever, it was on the SEC's website right before the Scripps/Journal merger took effect) that they weren't interested in participating in the spectrum auction at all.

 

EDIT: Here it is

 

 

I guess the one question that I'm sure you are getting a lot of people asking that, as well as each one of your peers is getting asked, is about the upcoming FCC broadcast incentive auction. It would be great to hear your views and your strategy and how you plan to position yourself, play the auction, and how you guys are thinking about approaching it.

 

 

Tim Wesolowski - The E.W. Scripps Company - SVP, CFO and Treasurer

 

Go ahead.

 

 

Rich Boehne - The E.W. Scripps Company - Chairman, President and CEO

 

It seems I get all the talking today, my lucky day. We are obviously spending a lot of time looking at a lot of the material that has been released relative to the auction. I think we have been consistent from the beginning saying we are broadcasters and we have an broadcasters since day one. We got some of the early licenses that were handed out in Washington, and we signed on some of the first television stations in America. And we expect to continue to be in the television business for decades to come.

 

That said, I think as a publicly traded company we have a responsibility to our shareholders to run the appropriate models, to look at how that spectrum is evaluated in every one of our markets and compare some of the options of selling back all 6 megahertz or channel sharing or partnering with other folks. But we have to compare that to what we see as a really viable long-term opportunity of funding an advanced standard to broadcast television in the United States. And I think ourselves and many of our peers in the industry are looking at an advanced ATSE standard that we think will allow us to better optimize the spectrum that we use for over-the-air broadcasting and give us a lot more flexibility to do things like additional multicast channels to serve the over-the-top audience.

 

We see opportunity for us to do the leasing of additional spectrum to telcos and others instead of just selling out and letting the government sell off that spectrum to those same folks. We think there's datacasting opportunities. There's opportunities for us to be able to provide targeted advertising to specific households through the new standards.

 

So we think that there's a great business on the backside, and we think that many of the businesses and revenue streams that could be our future have yet to be developed as a result of better optimization of the spectrum.

 

 

 

And so we will spend a fair amount of time in these next couple of months evaluating that on a market-by-market basis and then making individual decisions. But let me just be clear. Scripps will not be a wholesale seller. We will expect to be in our markets for the long haul and hopefully finding new, innovative business models to create great value for our shareholders with the spectrum we have.

I could potentially see them dumping duopoly stations as "redundancy" but it sounds like they're more interested in holding their spectrum for what may come in the future.

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Scripps already said in an investor conference call (or whatever, it was on the SEC's website right before the Scripps/Journal merger took effect) that they weren't interested in participating in the spectrum auction at all.

 

They may have made that statement, but I doubt anyone believes that they have no interest. Every broadcast group has interest because anytime a giant pile of cash is on the table from the feds there is "interest."

 

Let's see how the award cap and rules gets adjusted, and then lets see if Scripps is still sitting on the side.

 

Now if the entire thing flops......anything is possible.

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I've said it before but, Scripps really isn't doing anything all that different from other broadcasters.

 

I guess I'm just puzzled how we seem to jump to Scripps somehow teetering on the brink of insolvency because they are doing something(s) different and we may not agree with it.

 

I'm not going to belabor the point but, IMO Scripps isn't going away anytime soon.

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I've said it before but, Scripps really isn't doing anything all that different from other broadcasters.

 

I guess I'm just puzzled how we seem to jump to Scripps somehow teetering on the brink of insolvency because they are doing something(s) different and we may not agree with it.

 

I'm not going to belabor the point but, IMO Scripps isn't going away anytime soon.

They are behaving like they are going through something "more" whatever that means... They can be perfectly happy breaking even and that's fine... But it'd be nice if they make real efforts to attract viewers rather than "boldly go and viewers will follow".

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They may have made that statement, but I doubt anyone believes that they have no interest. Every broadcast group has interest because anytime a giant pile of cash is on the table from the feds there is "interest."

 

Let's see how the award cap and rules gets adjusted, and then lets see if Scripps is still sitting on the side.

 

Now if the entire thing flops......anything is possible.

 

I could see them placing WMAR in the incentive auction. What they might get for the spectrum might be worth as much as the station itself, since they've just about abandoned the idea of being any kind of player in Baltimore. One of Sinclair's three stations could take ABC.

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I could see them placing WMAR in the incentive auction. What they might get for the spectrum might be worth as much as the station itself, since they've just about abandoned the idea of being any kind of player in Baltimore. One of Sinclair's three stations could take ABC.

If that was the case, then Scripps would also place KSHB and WFTS in the auction as well. Honestly, WMAR has to wait like a vulture for WJZ to royally mess up and then and only then can they have a shot at being WBAL's new rival.

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If that was the case, then Scripps would also place KSHB and WFTS in the auction as well. Honestly, WMAR has to wait like a vulture for WJZ to royally mess up and then and only then can they have a shot at being WBAL's new rival.

 

If WJZ can look and sound like puke, I don't know what they can do to mess up in their viewers' eyes.

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Scripps' Lansing,Michigan station WSYM TV is immune to 'Scrippsnado 3 ' since FOX47NEWS is outsourced to WILX TV the Gray Broadcasting owned Lansing,Michigan NBC station [unless they decide not to renew its deal with WILX that is]

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If WJZ can look and sound like puke, I don't know what they can do to mess up in their viewers' eyes.

 

Looking like puke and sounding like puke doesn't necessarily mean they don't put out a quality product. It might not be refined, but at least they do put effort in where it needs to be which is the actual nuts and bolts. Scripps has gutted WMAR to a point that they try (and they really do), but when parts of your news team is being ran like a Morris Multimedia station, that is not good.

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I hate to throw back to a post from two weeks ago, but I don't hang around these parts like I used to...

 

WTVF is the dominant number 1 in the Nashville market. It has won all time slots for more than a year now, and when it didn't completely sweep previously, it was losing by a fraction of a point in one newscast.

 

Upon joining Scripps it jumps in as the #2 station for revenue in the company. Behind only WXYZ. We ain't all 3rd or 4th place stations...

 

#wigsnatch

 

 

 

Let's be honest. I really don't think that adding the Journal stations in the mix will help profits at all- not with all the expenses they will be taking on. These are not #1 stations, they are are as NS8401 pointed out, 3rd or 4th place stations. Plus they will need some resources poured into them, just like the former McGraw-Hill stations. And just look at how that turned out... as soon as they don't produce to their liking after they have invested in them, they then start cutting back. Scripps needs to stick to a sound plan and give it time, and not sidetrack itself with these gimmicky stunts/programs/ideas/products that they come up with or invest in. Frankly, I'm surprised that Brian Lawlor still has a job with the company seeing as that many of the stations he oversees are at the bottom of barrel.

 

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It would have to be awfully dominant to leapfrog all those bigger stations in revenue. WXYZ has always been Scripps cash cow so to speak. That their new Nashville station may be the #2 is surprising... Or maybe not... It is Scripps after all.

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