I’m not easily surprised when I hear stories about what’s happening inside local TV stations. I worked at three of them and have worked with many more over the past decade.
But, the other day, I heard something that is still hard to believe.
Remember the days when TV stations, as a local public service, would host telethons for community groups that needed money? It was a way for stations to help the community but also market themselves as connected to their viewers. Those days are over.
One local non-profit told me that they were solicited by a TV station that wanted to host a fundraising telethon on the air. As a public service? No. Now, it’s a revenue stream.
The TV station asked the non-profit for $100,000 cash to produce a day-long telethon including 16 minutes worth of live “cut-ins” throughout the day. Essentially, any money the non-profit raises over $100,000 they can keep. What if they don’t raise the hundred grand? Then, it’s a fundshrinker.
This is an example of how because of a vanishing audience, TV stations are desperate for revenue. Instead of capitalizing on new media while engaging new audiences at least one station is willing to pass off advertising as public service, going back to its same drying audience well yet again.