Even if the vultures circle

The economy is in the dump. We know that. We know that the Big (and quickly shrinking) Three are doing terribly. This is not good for big media and those who make a living keeping its pipelines full. GM, Ford, and their dealer associations continue to slash ad budgets. From Television Broadcast:

The auto industry is the No. 1 source of revenue for TV networks and stations. Car ads were pervasive, from sleek manufacturer mini movies to screeching local car dealers wearing tights and capes. But when auto sales fell into the black hole of mortgage foreclosures, the ad category started shrinking.

Automotive fell by 17 percent in spot ads for the second quarter, according to the Television Advertising Bureau. The category dipped to $669 million this year from $806 million last year.

vultures in treeYesterday The Hollywood Reporter apparently got a jump on its 2009 obituaries. The news for Charter Communications, Univision, and Cablevision is not good. Sirius shares are trading for pennies. In fact that death watch has been going on so long that I’m somewhat surprised every morning when I start the car and the receiver acquires a signal.

For all the gloom and doom in the mainstream and trade press, nothing beats the social networking’s ability to spread the misery. Just as the dot-com bust became an online sensation – we all remember FuckedCompany – the travails of modern media has become a Web 2.0 sensation. The best example of is this Twitter user.

A humorous aside, even though FuckedCompany is no longer, it’s founder tweets here. Plus ça change, baby.

Broadcasters and producers I’ve spoken with are bracing for a tough 2009. They’d be crazy not to. Everyone in virtually every industry is. Economically speaking it does feel a lot like the post dot-com period.

Having survived the challenge of launching a firm in that era, I don’t want to trivialize the difficult road ahead, but I also ask that folks take a step away from the hemlock potion. Be aware of the environment, but please don’t become paralyzed by it.

A different way to look at the downturn

On the eve of a new year, let’s take a more positive look at the environment. Cisco’s CEO John Chambers offers some great advice in Fast Company.

“If you watch what is occurring today, people are acting like the sky is falling,” says Cisco CEO John Chambers. But he has learned through numerous economic downturns – he cites 1993, 1997, 2001, and 2003 – that it’s entirely possible to come out stronger than you were before.

No one gets into this industry thinking it’s going to be easy. We all expected tough times, and we all expected to survive them. Take Chambers’ advice. Prepare for the upturn. Might as well. There’s not much you can do about the downturn.

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