New York investor Matthew Davidge says that in 10 years, small local TV stations will be having their newscasts produced and anchored from outside the market.
He believes that so much, he's invested in a company that is doing the hubbing of local news.
Arkansas Business writes that Anne Imanuel is the local news anchor in Salisbury, Maryland. And Meridian, Mississippi. And Hattiesburg. And Gainesville, Florida.
She anchors newscasts for all those markets from a building in west Little Rock, playing her part in a technology-driven shift that is upending the business model for small-market TV stations.
In a chilled 31,000-SF multimedia center at Shackleford Drive and Shackleford Road, Imanuel works for The Media Gateway LLC, a pioneer in the growing world of remote TV station operations.
Producing newscasts is just one service at Media Gateway, which has an even bigger job distributing TV stations' programming 24 hours a day via internet protocol systems. Both lines of business reflect a trend of outsourcing of tasks once routine at individual stations.
Imanuel and her colleagues coordinate their newscasts for viewers hundreds of miles away, with small teams of journalists on the ground in each market providing local reporting.
"Every 30 to 60 minutes I'm anchoring in a different city," Imanuel told Arkansas Business. "I need to constantly stay updated on the issues that matter to those communities."
It's a new kind of newscasting in a consolidating industry where master control functions, the last line of quality control before broadcast, are increasingly being outsourced.
Media Gateway specializes in that sort of outsourcing, offering to save TV stations two-thirds of the usual cost for some functions. For a monthly fee it will, as its website puts it, "take over the headache of television master control and playout through our central facility."
Hubbing, as the centralized approach is known, is a future that has already arrived, Davidge told Arkansas Business.
"In 10 years, all of the small-market stations will be doing it that way," he said. "The large-market stations may beat their chests and say look at how many anchors and rooms of computers we have." But for smaller markets grappling with shrinking margins as viewers turn away from traditional TV habits, "this makes a great deal of business sense."
Between newscasts, Anne Imanuel said that technology makes remote operations practical, but nothing will replace some human connection.
"I lived in Gainesville for six years, so I'm intimately familiar with the roads, businesses and issues," she said. "I've had the chance to visit our Salisbury market several times to host parades there," and she said she looks forward to spending time in the other cities where she's seen.
"Overall, it's a privilege to be the local news anchor in so many markets throughout the country. I may call Arkansas home, but I really care about what's happening in each place that I travel to virtually each night."