Talking TV: Ghosts Of TV’s Christmas Past And Future In 2024

TVNewsCheck Editor at Large Harry Jessell and Editor Michael Depp look back over an eventful year in broadcast business news and ahead to the steepest challenges it will confront in 2024. A full transcript of the conversation is included. [Ed. note: Jessell erroneously noted Nexstar stock took a 32% hit, when it actually lost 32 points. Since this episode was recorded, its stock rebounded to 155 yesterday.]

Broadcast TV saw its share of headwinds in 2023 with nary a regulatory lifeline in sight from the FCC. As it looks ahead to a lucrative election year in 2024 and a burgeoning atmosphere for sports rights opportunities, it will also face formidable challenges, among them what to do about generative AI and how to handle what may be one of the most fraught, polemicized elections in U.S. history.

In this Talking TV conversation, TVNewsCheck Editor Michael Depp and Editor at Large Harry Jessell take a wide-ranging look at the year just wrapping up and the one ahead, and what’s on the line for broadcasters as it comes.

Episode transcript below, edited for clarity.

Michael Depp: We’ve come to the end of a pretty volatile year for broadcasters, and it might fairly be said, an annus horribilis for us all. So, it’s probably a good time to take stock of some of the major events that have faced broadcasters in 2023 and look ahead to what is most likely to impact the industry in 2024.

I’m Michael Depp, editor of TVNewsCheck, and this is Talking TV, our weekly video podcast. This week, I’m joined by Harry Jessell, our beloved editor at large, and we’re going to talk about the health of the industry generally as it goes into the next year, the hope for regulatory relief, the prospects being ushered in by generative AI, 2024 election coverage and much, much more. We will be right back with that year-end conversation.

Harry Jessell: Good to see you, Michael. How are you?


It’s good to see you. I’m well, thanks. And it’s good to see you. You are the only person I’d want to wrap the year up with and look ahead to…

I think I’m the only person qualified to do that.

The only man standing on this planet who can do it. Exactly. Exactly. So, let’s play a little ghosts of Christmas past, and then ghost of Christmas future. And let’s start with the past, the year behind us. A lot of things going on. One of those things that might tell us something to sum up the year’s health of the industry, are stock prices.

Well, yeah, I thought, you know, there’s a lot of ways to measure an industry and we have some big public companies, so I thought I’d take a look at the stock prices and see how we did this year. First of all, the Dow is up 10%. The S&P was up 20%. So, it must have been a good year for the TV stocks. No, they were all down: 3%, 7%, 5%, 3%. Nexstar took a big hit, 32 points [Ed. note: Since this was recorded, Nexstar’s stock rebounded to 155 on Thursday]. But it was a high-flier. It started the year 174 and is down to 142, which is sort of a shame because Nexstar, the group, I think is really trying to do some things. And maybe we can talk about that a little bit later on with the CW and the NewsNation.

So, not a great year if you believe Wall Street. But I will say they’re doing better than radio. There’s a couple radio groups now that are selling for under a dollar.

Yeah, I don’t know, I mean, radio is a pretty low bar relatively speaking, but we have had a lot of headwinds this year. I mean, you know, just generally, advertising, the spot ad market was really challenged for a lot of this year. It wasn’t a political year. Of course, they’re looking at one next year and have a lot of hope with regards to a rebound there.

Well yeah, you know, that’s the nature of this business. And I think the number was that we got from Steve Passwaiter was $10 billion, of which broadcasters will get the lion’s share. So, that’s going to be a big hit for broadcasters and positive hit. They have that to look forward to as well as the challenge of covering those elections.

Yes, which we will come to. Let’s talk a little bit about the M&A year that wasn’t, in many ways, starting with Tegna.

Well, yeah. Well, this business is so heavily consolidated now that there’s not much room for mergers and acquisitions anymore. And the one big deal was cratered by the FCC and Jessica Rosenworcel, she torpedoed that deal crushing Soo Kim’s opportunity to make another big score in broadcasting and I think may have chased off some private equity money and hedge funds that might have been looking at broadcasting and their big cash flows that come, and she sort of sent a signal that you’re not wanted here in broadcasting. She’s a traditional Democrat, isn’t looking for more consolidation in this industry. So, that was sort of a negative for the industry, I think, overall.

Yeah, absolutely. But then we also have perhaps ABC on the sales block.

Well, yes, that was the story that never happened. In July, Bob Iger decides… I think the comment was like, his linear channels may not be core to the business, which a lot of people took as a sign that he was ready to divest ABC and ESPN maybe and his minor or smaller cable networks. And everybody got excited for a while. I saw numbers for ABC at $5 billion up. But you know, just a couple of weeks ago he sort of walks it back and says, you know, really, I was just really gassing, never mind, we believe in the future of linear TV. Maybe that means he does believe in linear TV. Maybe he just stirred up no interest in those networks.

Well, Byron Allen shot his hand up and Nexstar seemed to be sniffing around.

Nextstar, I think is definitely, and Byron is always sticking his hand up in the air. He’s an ambitious man. One of these days he’s going to make a big score, I think.

This would be a big one for him.

So, that never materialized. Maybe let’s put a positive spin on that. Let’s say this is Disney recognizing once again that linear TV is core, is important for maybe creating shows that they can sell downstream. So, let’s take it as a positive.

And of course, people at ABC are pretty nervous, though. I don’t think anybody feels like they’re standing on terra firma right now.

Well, probably not a good idea if you’re in the broadcasting business.

Harry, there was another big story this year with Disney and Charter.

Well, I was just going to say, the other sort of endorsement of the linear TV idea was that Disney and Charter, after coming to loggerheads in September or late August over a new carriage deal. It looked like that would go bad. It looked like Charter might walk away, but they didn’t. They were able to cut a deal for the ABC stations and more, and ESPN, and they got Monday Night Football up there.

And so, all was well, that was sort of a short-lived crisis. And had they not done that deal, that may have had repercussions for other broadcasters trying to cut new retrans deals. And so, I think for the time being, it’s secure, the idea the retrans will continue to come in. We have another year or two anyway of business as normal.

Sigh of relief.

Sigh of relief.

Another issue this year that was substantial, still unfolding really, is around the FCC and the virtual MVPDs, and that kind of fostered a bit of a schism inside of the broadcast world.

Well, yeah. Network versus affiliate the old, they’ve always been at odds, more prominently at some times than at others. But the real story there is, again, Rosenworcel has decided that she will not save broadcasters and allow them to deal directly with the virtual MVPDs, which are becoming a big part of the ecosystem now. That they will have to work through the networks, and when the networks make those deals with the virtual MVPDs, the affiliates always end up on the short end. So, that was a blow.

And it’s like Rosenworcel, like a lot of people, they say they love localism, but she doesn’t do a whole lot to help localism by supporting TV stations. I think she thinks she’s doing good by disallowing duopolies. I saw that was in the news again this week. NAB is making another run to persuade the FCC to allow network affiliates in the same market to own each other, you know, common ownership of two network affiliates. She’s not a fan of that. She’s turned down deals like that or rejected deals like that. That’s something she could do. You know, giving affiliates the right to negotiate directly with the MVPDs would have been nice…

Doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it, Harry?

Now we need another term. Can we come up with another term for that?

Yeah, I’ll work on that.

But what is clear, what is crystal clear, is she wants to help, maybe. But she doesn’t quite know how to. We’ll put it like that.

Well, one of the things I suppose you could say that that she did do to help, at least nominally, was a task force that was announced on ATSC 3.0, back in April, I believe it was, at the NAB Show, to kind of kick start that along, get that moving a little bit further. Doesn’t seem to have been a great year for NextGen TV, though, has it?

Well, it continues to bump along. Every so often you’ll see that they have announced another market, but I have yet to see a real plan for generating some revenue, creating a business either through enhanced television or through datacasting. I think the fact that LG, one of the big TV manufacturers, decided to take a pause in the marketing of NextGen sets was not good news.

Under litigation. So, it wasn’t maybe a voluntary pause, but nevertheless.


Just to say they were the biggest boosters in the OEM world for this technology. They were the ones kind of sticking their neck out the furthest. There was a lot of ambivalence with a lot of other set manufacturers.

Well, we’ll see what happens at the Consumer Electronics Show. But, you know, frankly, I don’t think that’s… I think it’s more of a datacasting business. I think that’s the way it’s going to go. And in even in that space, there’s another competitive transmission system out there. Got 5G, you know, uses the same transmission system they’re using for the phones, there’s a faction of the LPTV industry that’s sort of pushing this idea. So, then the ATSC proponents have to deal with that now, that somebody else is after that spectrum.

They’ve definitely thrown some cold water on that. But I do know that that some of the other the non-Sinclair broadcasters are trying some experiments with datacasting that they’ve kind of been keeping a lid on. I think some companies are just trying to manage expectations around this that it’s not going to be a panacea.

But you know, what’s interesting, when I talk to general managers, these are some of the people who are the most John the Baptist about the potential. They really do believe something is coming that will be transformative, mainly in terms of like addressable advertising in many ways. And it’s odd because that sort of dropped out of the national conversation. Certainly, it’s not leading the salient characteristics of ATSC 3.0 when we’re talking about it in a broader sense. So, they still believe, even if the faith has perhaps been challenged.

Well, as Mark Aitken is always telling me, keep the faith.

OK, well, there it is. So Nexstar, we touched on that before and they’ve had an interesting year with their national network endeavors. One of them being the CW, which underwent a pretty significant reboot this year.

Well, my Nexstar or my CW story is: I was at a New Jersey beach in September wondering how I was going to watch the West Virginia/Pitt football game, and I was surprised to find it on the CW. I guess they have an ACC package. I should have known that, but they do, and so I was able to watch that game sitting in a beach resort in New Jersey. I guess out of Philadelphia, it was. But I think that’s the right strategy, I mean they’re really heavy into sports. They did a wrestling thing also.

So, yeah, I think that’s a wise way to go. I hope they can make it. I know they’re investing heavily in it. At least Nexstar has sort of a growth strategy and maybe that’s why their stock is trading so much higher than their peers. Also, I listed this the year that Scripps came out and started talking about scooping up some local sports, and we’ve seen some of that.

Yeah, not only Scripps, Gray is on their heels, other groups are getting in there and definitely a lot of sports deals were announced. It wasn’t a plethora, but there was so much flux in that space, and it continues to be really, a lot of the teams in various leagues wanted to develop direct to consumer products for streaming so they can be sure to reach their fans. But they were convinced in many cases that broadcast is a value to them.

You know, it was years ago when I was growing up, you could watch baseball, hockey, basketball on broadcast TV or fairly frequently, boxing. All of that went away, by and large. And so, you know, those were fan recruitment devices. Those are tools for that, and I think they’re seeing the wisdom of that. And so, you get these 30-game packages that are popping up around the country with different teams and they seem to be good deals, or at least the teams are willing to try it out and see how it works.

Well, I hope we see more of them. You seem to have tracked it more closely than I. I’ve seen a few, but I’d like to see, you know, what do I know about sports marketing? But here in Pittsburgh, to do 25 or 30 games on broadcast TV and remind the people that have abandoned, the cord cutters, that we still have baseball here in Pittsburgh seems to me like a no brainer. I’d like to see it. I think it certainly would be a great thing for broadcasters if they could make that not as a loss leader, but as a real source of profit.

Yeah, well, Scripps is certainly the most bullish in that area, but Gray isn’t far behind them. And I think every group is taking this. Sinclair is trying to get back into that game a little bit and do some deals, and I think most groups are at least considering the possibility.

I think if Sinclair never saw another sports program again, they’d be happy.

Well, perhaps.

Their venture into sports has not been a good one so far.

No, but that story isn’t done being written yet.

OK, keep the faith, keep the faith.

That’s right. That’ll be the mantra.

That’s our theme.

Absolutely. And then just lastly, with Nexstar, NewsNation has another year behind it. Now they’ve got a presidential Republican debate that they have hosted. Are they, do you think, moving closer to viability, acceptability, with viewers?

I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant, and they could have had any TV station going on. Any TV station, there’s 10,000 of them and they had NewsNation. They must be doing something right. I think having that Republican debate on, which for some odd reason, I’ve been enjoying those debates. You know why? Because they’re talking policy. If they’re talking real policy, they’re talking about fixing things. There’s something normal about them. But I thought, I thought that was sort of a feather in their cap. It gave them a little status. If they were one of the big boys. I think it’s a very polished network.

It is.

No nonsense, very polished. They’ve done a nice job.

That’s Christmas past Let’s look to Christmas future 2024. There are a few things I want to bring up. Just the things that I’m watching and dynamics that will be kind of obviously important for the next year. One of them is the FAST channel phenomenon, which has become wildly, explosively popular with broadcasters. All of them, I think, at this point realize or already have FAST channels that they’re putting in various places, on the MVPDs, on the apps that are sponsored by the OEMs. Most of them have a strategy of ubiquity and putting them in as many places as possible. It’s a sort of easy-to-understand, intuitive business. It’s linear TV streaming, simply no VOD menu.

But it is an area that also, interestingly, where there’s a lot of change already happening. It used to be, you buy a smart television, you open up the app with all the FAST channels inside and you’d see a lot of library content stuff that was just kind of thrown at the wall to see what works. We are past that phase now.

We’re in the culling phase and the reorganization, redistribution of where FAST channels sit in those ecosystems. And it’s definitely turning out to be the case that they have to really think about, anybody putting one of these channels out, has to think about programing. It can’t just be some afterthought or just wheels that are running in endless circles that the OEMs and other more prized real estate wants to see original programing. They want to see dynamism, they want to see live. And so, it would seem that every broadcast group right now, needs –  

When you say, OEM, what are we talking about?

The set manufacturers, so the LGs, the Samsungs, anybody’s who’s got… and every TV basically now is a smart TV and it’s starting to come with loads of, you know, hundreds of FAST channels. But if you want to have a good place in that channel lineup, then you’ve got to have good stuff there. So, there can’t be any passivity about the programing. I think we’re going to go into this interesting year of prioritizing that platform and what it can do and just being much more active.

I have to tell you, when I turn on my TV, I look at, you know, I use Roku, when I look at those, you know, I can go down search channels and it’s just the clutter of stuff. And, you know, sometimes you see something that you might think is interesting. You go in there, it’s second-rate stuff. It looks like a lot of clutter.

It’s got a diginet-y kind of quality to it, sometimes in the worst sense of the diginet. But again, that’s you know, that stuff is getting stale. And it was sort of placeholder material in the FAST ecosystem. And now we’re moving into this more, I hate to use the word, but curated kind of sensibility about those channels.

Well, here’s what I want to know is what am I going to do with all these pay streams that I’m paying for I can’t keep paying them for. I think I’ve you know, they’re sort of like barnacles. You go through, I just collect them. I don’t think there’s, I’ve got them all and I got to do something. Can we cut to the consolidation phase?

Bundling. Well, the consolidation phase is happening for sure. But before that we’re going to see the bundling phase. And that word has already been thrown out by a few executives just in the last couple of weeks. It is coming. I think Apple TV and Paramount are talking about bundling and there are others that are under consideration right now. Bundling is going to happen, as people predicted years ago, the a la carte nature of streaming and buying streaming services has become onerously expensive, just on par with what people were paying for their cable bills. And so, what’s the value proposition really there? We’re going to see some culling of the herd. We’re going to see some bundling. There’s just going to be endless volatility in that space. So, you know, keep watching.

I guess the story is that none of these things are particularly profitable right now.


No, they are not.

Well, many of them are. You know, Netflix tends to, by and large, to be pretty successful, but you have to have a massive, massive library. And that bundling is right. Even when you have a big library with lots of good titles, it’s got to be super enormous to really sustain. Of course, having all that programing costs a lot of money. The technology itself costs a ton of money and people don’t realize, they think it all just wafts in the cloud. There are server farms and massive infrastructure costs to running these things. And so, these were not small businesses that were quick to get off the ground and inexpensive. They were enormously expensive.

And then you add in the programing cost, to make the best programing that we’ve ever seen in some ways in the history of television. High cinematic production values, this cost a fortune. And this is all weighing on everybody’s balance sheets right now as we’re going into 2024.

You know, back in the day, it always irritated me that you had to get both HBO and Showtime. And I’m feeling the same way. If I want to get all the stuff that I want to get, I really have to do all those channels and they all have something on them.

You have to work three jobs to pay for it all too.

There’s a couple other things. Well, the major thing to watch, I think, for next year and maybe the most important thing since the advent of the internet — and I’m not even being hyperbolic here — is generative AI and its potential not only to change every part of our life, every industry, it’s going to affect broadcasters and it’s going to affect them imminently.

When I was at the IBC show in Amsterdam back in September, the word every single booth there was repeating like a mantra was the word
“efficiency,” because everyone realized they needed to get more efficiency out of their technologies than they have been getting. They need to lighten the load on people who are working in news, who are overworked. They need to get rid of redundant activities that go on routinely in newsrooms.

And AI, generative AI, has the opportunity to wend into so many facets of news production and lighten the workload, do incredible good potentially toward reducing the kind of redundancies that are out there helping, for instance, with versioning content from multiple platforms, which is a very onerous part of people’s jobs at TV stations as one example. It has so many appeals, and it’s becoming so much more precise, so sharp and so intelligent, it’s machine learning, so it’s always learning from what it’s doing. And its appeal to news producing companies is enormous on many levels. They are also extremely wary of the knock-on effects that it brings with it.

I’m sorry, what kind of effects?

The knock-on effects of, you know, just various things that will happen that as a result of adoption that you have to consider. You know, one of the things, for instance, being the major trust issues that consumers have with all sorts of televison, both local and national television, at this point.

When you’re employing AI at any level of the news process — and it can be applied at every level from news gathering to writing material, editing — all of this stuff can be automated. It can intermediate itself in very minute and very substantive ways that you might consider to be authorial in some ways.

The industry now has to reckon with how do you tell viewers about how you’re using it? If you are, what sort of disclosures do you offer there? And if you do disclose — I just read something today that the viewers want to know when it’s being employed, but they trust you less when you tell them. So, you know, you’ve got a real conundrum, there.

Yeah, really. Are you hip to what happened to Sports Illustrated?

Sports Illustrated, Gannett. I mean, those who have used it compositionally to write stories and yet, mind you, AP has been using it for years in that regard. They have these sort of templatized stories that they use to report earnings for a lot of small companies that allowed them to produce a lot more earnings coverage than they had been doing because they create a written template, and they plug in data points that are sort of scraped with the AI.

They did the same thing for minor league sports and baseball. And we’re talking like five or so years ago. It’s been out there, and they were fully transparent about its use there. Other groups are murkier in the way that they have used it.

Well, SI, which I consider a great journalistic brand. I don’t know what it is lately, I don’t read it. They were making up reporters. I mean, they were using stock photos and putting little blurbs at the end of the story. I mean…

And I still don’t think, as of this moment they have not come completely clean with what happened there. But it does enormous damage to the credibility of the brand. Of course, SI had some damage done, you know, going into this. And I think it’s often groups that are in dire straits, like Gannett, who are using it very liberally. But some TV station groups, look, many of the SVPs of news that I talked to in local station groups have a high, very elevated level of concern about it. They know they have to deal with it. They know it’s kind of fashioning into an arms race where someone is going to start using it and they’re going to get a competitive edge by doing so. So, they can’t just stick their head in the sand about it.

The stage that they are mostly at right now as groups is to form a sort of steering committee or some sort of internal apparatus that can start to assimilate all the information, the developments that are going on around this world — and they are coming daily, fast and thick — to try to get a handle on simply what is the narrative around this technology, how can it be used and what are the pitfalls we need to be aware of?

And there are also industry-wide consortia that are beginning to consolidate around this, around subsets of the AI issue, for instance, content authenticity, and we’ve had some podcasts and other material just this year about this subject.

How do you authenticate stuff because it’s so easy… AI can be weaponized as sort of tool of manipulation of content, and what do you do? How do you discern that? How do you prevent your own content from being in some way altered and misused once it’s out in the wild? And so, there are technologies being developed to watermark things once they’re disseminated, and there’s a sort of manifest that follows it. It’s extremely complicated, and it’s an arms race between the sort of bad actors using AI and the news organizations who want to use it to good effect.

Well, look, let me interrupt you. What would you advise the broadcasters? You say there’s sort of a downside to transparency, Right?

There is.

You can’t be too honest.

Well, so it seems. I mean, there was one report that found that viewers then have a wary eye that they raise around that. But there’s already a handful of news organizations who are wholly creating content with AI, that you can just get rid of reporters altogether.

This is one of the facets that’s going to have to be dealt with, and it does present, it should be really clear, that if companies broadly adopt generative AI into their newsrooms, it doesn’t seem possible that positions won’t be eliminated in the process. And those are positions that require a lot of critical intelligence.

And so, you know, I don’t want to say that producers all need to be worried about their job security per se. But the notion of a gen AI filling the many facets of the producer role is imminent and many other roles. You can have an AI-generated synthetic anchor or an avatar of one of your existing real human anchors, right now.

Well, TVNewsCheck has been sort of on the cutting edge of reporting that they can’t find producers. So, it sounds to me nobody’s going to lose their jobs, they’re just…

Probably not.

This may save stations.

Harry, I have a disclosure for you: You’ve been talking to an AI this whole time. I’m not actually, not actually me. It’s just my avatar. Just kidding. But it’s close. We’re close to that, and so the point is, broadcasters need to lean into this. They need to pay close attention, read everything they can. They should have a point person or group if they don’t have that now already. And these groups, these people are going to have to make some very consequential choices over the next months and year with regards to this technology.

Well, that’s great editorial fodder.

We’re all over it.

You should be.

I just want to bring up one last thing I think that we’re all going to obviously be looking at for next year and deeply concerned about, which is coverage of the 2024 election, because you have a very, very difficult needle to thread, even just looking through the lens of local television stations here where everything is politicized at every single level. You can’t just say, well, we’re local, we’re not national, we don’t have to worry about the same trust issues. They do. Mistrust has widened and it’s deeply impacted local news, and they cannot put their heads in the sand with regards to engaging the deeply polemicized viewerships that they have right now.

Trump is almost certain to be the Republican nominee and Biden the Democratic nominee. And with more and more utterances coming from Trump that are deeply, concerningly anti-democratic in nature, as in threatening the core tenants of the republic, stations have to wrestle with how they present that, that language, its consequences. What we know, in this particular candidacy, is issues that are raised that are very, very serious to the future of U.S. democracy as we have long known it.

They risk in engaging that to any degree utter alienation of Republican voters, for instance, and to abdicate in any way they risk alienating Democratic voters or just generally left-leaning voters who feel that that abdication is a failure of responsibility. And so, on that front, again, they’re going to have to make daily decisions about coverage. And they’ve struggled with this, and they continue to struggle with it about how to contextualize all of this. And how to get out of the horse race to talk about the larger issues that affect the state of the republic right now.

So, those are those are some serious, serious things that they’re going to have to grapple with, as well as the safety of their reporters. I mean, reporters are assaulted in small ways and large ways, much more than people realize in this country. It is a dangerous job. They’re in the crosshairs. People have been whipped up into a kind of frenzy and they feel very, very free about attacking verbally or otherwise or making threats on social media or in person reporters at every level.

And so, every single newsroom is going to have to develop protocols and keep iterating those protocols and have security with their reporters when they’re in situations that could become dangerous and so many more situations can become dangerous now.

OK, here’s a question for you, you want to pontificate, sir. Do broadcasters have a responsibility or are they liable? Because of the nature, I mean they’re going to take all this political advertising in next year, right? A lot of it is provocative, a lot of it is pretty nasty. It can get pretty nasty. Doesn’t that sort of fuel this conflict out there in the real world?

So, you’re sort of warning broadcasters that they’re going to have a tough time covering this election next year. At the same time, they’re sort of whipping up the electorate with just broadcasting those ads. I didn’t use the word responsible because they’re not, because of the way the law is written. They are not liable for a lot of what goes into those ads. Their obligation is they air them pretty much as they receive them. What do you think?

Well, like you said, their responsibilities are somewhat limited. They’re certainly not going to turn down that money. They need it badly. But, you know, it kind of also circles around to a broader media literacy problem that we have in this country where, you know, a lot of viewers conflate everything they see into one big kind of organism.

They don’t make these delineations. We’ve done a terrible job as a country, given how saturated we are with media. We have an electorate which is ill informed in many, many, many cases and conflates a lot of material. Of course, those problems are conflated by some news organizations themselves, particularly on cable, particularly in primetime, where this conflation of opinion and news is just wholly realized at this point.

So, we have that problem to untangle and no immediate solution presenting itself. If I could dictate something to the industry, I would advise trying to weave in media literacy efforts more often into their programing in small and large ways, if they could, to help viewers understand and unpack critically the things with which they are being presented.

And you can do that in all sorts of ways. But right now, this problem does face us immediately. And these are the dynamics that are already well in motion. And so, we’ve got to play the hand that we’ve been dealt.

I think that’s a good answer. Media literacy and broadcasters, I think, should do that. Again, this gets back to transparency. What they’re doing, what’s really happening out there, when the politicians say this, what do they really mean and not?

I don’t think they should stand in judgment just to know that, at the very least, know what the incentives that are driving media understand the economics of the business so viewers can sort of understand why they do some of the things that they do. I think that having a good industry-wide campaign for the industry, for broadcasters to undertake…

At the same moment, it should be clear that a lot of groups have made great leaps forward in just the last couple of years in the way that they’re covering stories, in realizing that they need to build transparency more into the process, what they’re showing viewers and showing them behind the curtain of news production a little bit more than they ever have, trying various creative ways to be more transparent.

And the product is everywhere that you can see of that nature, and there has been great improvement. They are meeting, trying to meet the moment in that sense. So, I’m optimistic that an effect of all of this has been that that most of the major groups have been introspective about their news product, iterating it much more dramatically than they have for decades.

Well, they are still considered the most trusted source of news, so they’ve got to be careful not to lose that.

Yes, exactly. And they know it. Well, I think a good note to leave it on is the prospect of trust and hope springs eternal. Harry, it’s been great talking with you once again and looking back and ahead to 2024. We’ll see you next year.

OK, yes, sir. See you then.

Thank you. And you can watch past episodes of Talking TV, at, as well as on our YouTube channel. We will be back in the new year with a whole slate of new Talking TV podcasts every Friday and look forward to seeing you then. Have a good new year.

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December 18, 2023 at 8:14 pm

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