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Another Step in The Cable Game--Hyperlocal Networks

Written By mista sense on Thursday, May 8, 2008 | 5:36 AM

The New York Times' TV beat reporter Bill Carter hasn't been laid off yet, so he continues to do excellent work, to wit, this scoop on NBC flagship station WNBC's plan to create itself a 24/7 "content center," providing news along the lines of New York One. Carter got the 411 on "NBC New York" from John Wallace, whose brand new title is "president of local media":

If the plan is deemed a success — and Mr. Wallace said that should be clear by the second quarter of next year — NBC will begin to take the same steps with the other stations it owns, in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. NBC owns 10 stations; two of them, in Miami and Hartford, Conn., are for sale. The reasons for the reshaping of WNBC are tied to the coming expansion in digital capacity for local broadcasters as well as the sharp decline in profitability for local stations. Stations will soon be able to add a number of separate channels as digitalization will make possible the division of the local broadcast spectrum. (NBC may also add a separate channel devoted to local lifestyle coverage, like real estate listings and restaurant reviews.)

The Cable Gamer has been plenty critical of NBC and its various offshoots and excrescences for their obviously biased political coverage, but TCG admires technical innovation.

In the cool new world of Convergence, it only makes sense that there would be a proliferation of portals. Cable, Net--what's the difference? It's all streaming ones and zeros, by any name.

Oh sure, TV is still "hot," in the sense of live and immediacy, and at least the chance that watching is some sort of collective communal event, but just as valuable to people is the ability to get the news that they want, about the topic that they want, when they want it.

And that's the promise of hyperlocal news. The Cable Game has always been about lots of channels, and lots of choice. It will be soon be about lots and lots of channels, and lots and lots of choice.

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