Filling the “White Spaces”

 I found the phrase “white spaces” interesting when it was announced yesterday that the FCC has allowed conditional unlicensed use of “white spacestelevision spectrum. In an attempt to avoid getting bogged down in tech speak. This is the radio spectrum that is now available as a result of TV’s switch to digital.

Once the FCC found that the issue of interference with existing radio signals could be overcome through technology that shuts down any device using the “white space” once it senses another signal, granting access was a slam dunk.

Companies like Google and Microsoft herald the decision as a way to allow widespread mobile adoption. On the other hand, broadcast companies (seeing yet another reason to claim “everybody is out to get us”) and the likes of Verizon (already hot to charge more for services) are less than thrilled.

As I have said previously, I personally am thrilled with anything that allows the growth and spread of mobile access if it leads us closer to parity with other countries (Luxembourg for God’s sake) in services offered wirelessly. I am also concerned as a radio fan. This magic sensing thing-a-ma-bob that prevents interference with existing frequencies sure better work. The last thing any “channel” needs is a return to the “party line” annoyance of too many on a channel. Ick!

“White spaces”  also triggered in me another use of that term. A use that I see benefitting many media channels. As of late yesterday the flood of political advertising stopped…I’ll pause as you jump up and down with joy and do a couple of Tiger Woods arm pumps…done? This sudden loss of “content” in itself reveals a whole lot of “white space”.

While this will surely illustrate that most media outlets are woefully lacking in paid advertising it does present opportunity. You don’t have to look far to find out that ad sales, until now bouyed by political spending, are way off and the holiday season is not predicted as being particuarly robust. So what is a media outlet to do with all that “white space”?

Answer: Create or expand existing attractive content to fill that space! In most cases the first thing traditional media outlets do is have a sale. Cut rates on the commercial inventory to fill the void with more commercials. Of course, I understand the need to generate revenue, but is that really the best solution to generate revenue well beyond this quarter. Nope. The best course is to generate content that attracts more audience, thereby providing more audience to advertisers and leading to better rates in the process.

Radio! Play more music, build ways to connect with your community in an entertaining way, allow your talent to…well…be talent.

TV! You have the chance to reach out to your local audience in more places now. You don’t have to pile it all into the 5pm-7pm (CST) time frame.

Newspaper-Unlike electronic media you are not a slave toa clock. You don’t need to fill space, you cna alwasy just reduce “space”. But, how about showcasing some of those community stories you didn’t have room for because candidates were slapping each other around. Yeah, you could always just use less paper, but maybe there is happy medium.

And all media can spend some time advancing their online intiatives. This will also lead to stronger relationships and a greater sense of community.

The proliferation of this “white space” is a gift to you. Use it, at the very least part of it, to build a more solid future rather than opting for generating a relatively small amount of cash to add to this quarter’s bottomline.