TSM News, the regional-news operation owned by Lenfest
Communications Inc., is kicking off a number of initiatives aimed at forging stronger
local ties to the communities it serves, including creating a "Neighborhood News
Corps" and doing a deal with Internet distributor Broadcast.com Inc.
"I want to go beyond what the typical programmer
does," TSM News president Stanley Greene said. "You have to bond with
subscribers and get in the fabric of the community."
TSM News is an 11-hour local-news block that airs on the
regional TSM Network from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
TSM Network is Lenfest's fiber-delivered terrestrial
service that reaches 1.2 million Suburban Cable and Garden State Cable subscribers. It
reaches homes in southern New Jersey, the Philadelphia suburbs, central Pennsylvania and
Greene is trying to build closer ties to the areas and
communities that TSM News serves by starting an initiative that he calls "LINC,"
or "Local Interactive Niche Content."
"In a market, you want to own sports and something
else that is important to people: news," he said.
There are five different prongs to LINC, and TSM News just
launched the first one in time for the Fourth of July weekend, the NNC.
TSM News, which has five bureaus throughout its region, is
asking volunteers to submit camcorder footage of community events, sports, civic issues
and any breaking news that they shoot. TSM News will run portions of the tapes throughout
each day, giving NNC members credit lines when their footage is aired.
"Over the holiday, people will tape things like
barbecues and air shows," Greene said. "We'll get a tremendous amount of
Greene is a veteran of Greater Media Inc. and Bell Atlantic
Corp., as well as The Box Music Network, where he served as president of The Box USA until
the end of 1997. Lenfest chairman Gerry Lenfest hired Greene in 1998 to work on the
At TSM News, Greene said, he is trying to create the kinds
of local ties that he did while he was at The Box. Under Greene's helm, the music network
began naming local market managers, working on DMA-wide promotions with local retailers
and radio stations and doing local programming segments.
The idea of LINC is to offer cable subscribers content and
a connection that competitors such as direct-broadcast satellite can't, according to
Greene. As a terrestrial service, Lenfest doesn't have to offer TSM Network to DBS
The second LINC initiative, set to come online later this
month, is a partnership with Broadcast.com, which will Webcast TSM News' TV newscasts.
Through this video streaming, TSM News will be available to
consumers throughout the day on their workplace computers, much like radios have provided
background for workers in the past, Greene said.
The remaining three LINC initiatives planned for the future
are: "LINC to Your Leaders," under which TSM News is creating a database of
high-profile community leaders that it can interview on hot issues in the region;
"WebCam LINC," the development of a volunteer Web-cam team who will appear on
the network's Web site; and "Media LINC," under which TSM News will build
partnerships with area radio stations and newspapers to share resources and information.
TSM News' format is hour-long wheels during which the first
half-hour is made up of news and the second of live call-ins and reaction from viewers,
LINC to Your Leaders will help to scout out community
leaders who could appear on those segments to discuss controversial issues.