Written by lyoung87
Thursday, August 4th, 2011
As a summer intern for a major network affiliate in a top market, I learned a great deal about control over television’s content. More specifically, control for a television station that is owned and operated by the network (O&O) compared to that of a station that is affiliated, but owned by a separate media company.
Like many television viewers, I used to think that all of the shows airing on television were dictated by the network. After beginning my major in college, I quickly learned that this notion was inaccurate. My assignments at my internship helped better my understanding of this relationship over content.
During my orientation, I learned that my station initially began as an affiliate of another major network. As this affiliate, the network supplied my station with 22 hours of programming. The station was only required to fill the programming gap for two hours. As the years progressed, my station was acquired by another parent company, causing a switch from being one network’s affiliate to being another major network’s affiliate. With this switch also came more control over the station’s content. Instead of supplying the affiliate with 22 hours of programming, the network only provides 2 hours of daily programming. These two hours are during the primetime day part. Supplying and controlling the primetime programming of true affiliates are functions granted to the network.
TV stations like mine that are not true affiliates have more control over the content that they display. They, too, receive content from the network. However, unlike my station, these stations have more autonomy in terms of the length and times of that the content is aired. For instance, a Dallas professional sports team brought home a historic championship this past summer. The weeks prior to the major win allowed many businesses to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the championship. These businesses included stores, private vendors, and the Dallas network affiliate that aired the sports game. Unlike many of this affiliate’s sister stations across the country, this affiliate decided to not air the pre- and post-game shows supplied by the network. Instead, this affiliate used its local news as pre- and post-game specials.
By opting to do this, this affiliate was not only controlling its content, but also its revenue. This is because when a network supplies the content, the majority of the money generated from that content’s commercial sales goes back to the network. In terms of the pre- and post-game shows, this independently owned and operated station’s local shows were sponsored by local businesses. Making a small decision to create its own thirty-minute pre- and post-game shows enabled this local affiliate to capitalize on the ratings of the championship. As an affiliate with more control, rather than an O&O, the station was able to generate substantial revenue from its local market.