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Television Broadcasters Initiative Unveiled

By Emmis Communications
Apr 21, 2004, 14:24

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Strategy would re-establish relationship with audience and monetize the digital spectrum for broadcasters

AS VEGAS, Nevada -- Television broadcasters will reclaim lost revenue and reestablish severed audience relationships through a revolutionary initiative that was unveiled today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. By taking advantage of new technologies, the initiative would allow broadcasters to compete with cable companies by providing audiences with low-cost multi-channel viewing options.

"Forty years ago, Americans began taking down their TV antennas and severing broadcasters' direct link to television audiences," said Jeff Smulyan, the initiative's founder and Emmis Communications (NASDAQ:EMMS) Chairman & CEO. "Since then, the middlemen who replaced us -- the cable companies -- have created more than $300 billion of value for themselves, using our product. But technology has advanced in our favor. By pooling our digital spectrum and utilizing the latest technology, broadcasters can provide the public with local channels in high definition as well as at least 30 of the most popular cable networks."

Smulyan said the response to the proposal from fellow television broadcasters has been swift and overwhelming. He was joined at the news conference by leading television companies in support of the initiative including Barrington Broadcasting Co., Citadel Communications Co., Clear Channel Communications, E.W. Scripps Co., Fisher Broadcasting Co., Media General, Meredith Corporation, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Prime Cities Broadcasting Inc., Raycom Media and Sunbelt Communications Co.

"The television industry has allowed a third party to take our product and profit from it," Smulyan said. "If left unaddressed, this model will only further erode our business. However, technology has shifted, and we have the opportunity to strengthen our relationships and our businesses. It is time for us to take control of our industry and our destiny."

Smulyan noted that broadcasters have already spent $3.5 billion nationally for the digital build-out, so start-up costs would be limited.

Research has shown the public is interested in a low-cost alternative to cable, with a select number of targeted cable channels available and high- quality customer service. Under this proposal, the public would purchase a set-top box for a one-time cost of approximately $99 and pay roughly $25 a month in service -- a significant discount to current cable rates -- with access to local stations in high definition and at least 30 top-rated cable stations. Because of the limited up­front cost for broadcasters, resources can be focused on creating the first-class customer service experience that consumers demand.

A webcast with the replay of the presentation in Las Vegas is available by visiting the Emmis home page,

Broadcasters interested in participating in the initiative should call 317-684-6530.

Emmis Communications - Great Media, Great People, Great Service(SM)

Emmis Communications is an Indianapolis-based diversified media firm with radio broadcasting, television broadcasting and magazine publishing operations. Emmis' 23 FM and 4 AM domestic radio stations serve the nation's largest markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago as well as Phoenix, St. Louis, Austin, Indianapolis and Terre Haute, IN. In addition, Emmis owns 16 television stations, a radio network, three international radio stations, regional and specialty magazines, and ancillary businesses in broadcast sales and book publishing.

CONTACT: Kate Healey of Emmis, +1-317-684-6576


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