Gannett Broadcasting and Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury have formed a partnership to develop, produce, test and distribute first-run broadcast series for a variety of dayparts. Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, and Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury, made the announcement.
The partnership gives Gannett Broadcasting the ability to create, test and perfect broad appeal first-run syndicated television programming across all genres on many of its stations beginning in 2015. Viewer interactivity will be a central concept of the programming developed by the partnership. In addition, Gannett will leverage the digital presence–including mobile–of its stations to reach viewers wherever they are.
In the deal, Debmar-Mercury gains distribution for its shows from a top-tier broadcaster. Gannett operates the largest independent TV station group of major network affiliates in the top-25 U.S. television markets. Excluding owner-operators, Gannett Broadcasting is both the No. 1 NBC and CBS affiliate group, with stations covering nearly a third of the country.
One of the key aspects of the partnership is flexibility. It has been structured so, as Gannett and Debmar-Mercury agree on the concept and timing of their first project together, they will be able to test the series on various Gannett stations and at various times throughout the year. The on-air tests will all be of various durations.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the talented team at Debmar-Mercury to produce the programming our viewers want,” said Lougee. “We will work together to design shows to take advantage of how television has changed and create a new genre of syndicated programming. With more than 40 stations across the country, we will have the ability to experiment, test and refine programs throughout the development process. Local broadcasters, like Gannett, have an opportunity to tap into the organic relationship between television viewing and social media.”