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Phil Arno: Owner, WBBZ-TV

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Phil Arno: Owner, WBBZ-TV

On Monday, August 1, Springville, NY-based TV station WNGS will be changing its call letters to WBBZ. North Buffalonian Phil Arno, the station owner, sees a future in creating a locally-owned channel that will increasingly produce homegrown shows that cater to Western New York viewers.

Explain the call letter change from WNGS to WBBZ.

The call letters are meant to send a message to WNY that they at last have a station, Buffalo’s Buzz, that is all about Buffalo and WNY.

There are hundreds of channels available to viewers through cable and dish, how will WBBZ stand out?

You certainly have many hundreds of stations to choose from but only one will be concerned with bringing you information and entertainment that is centered around you, your neighbors and friends.

Why do you think local ownership of local stations is important?

Sinclair, Lin, Gannett and Granite own over 250 stations between them. When you own 30, 40 or 60 stations, you are not likely to say “Gee, I think Buffalo is a very unique market. Why don’t we do programs that will be great for them?“

There are two ways to make money in this business.

The first is to cut costs, don’t worry too much about quality, make a mass buy and put Oprah, Judge Judy, and Wheel of whatever on all your stations everyday at the same time. The large corporate owners are married to this method. They couldn’t change even if they wanted to.

The other way is to do high quality programs that people will connect with and want to see. If people watch, ads will come and you will make money.

We will not offer local programs 100% of the time but we will grow our local schedule far beyond what any of the other stations can do and beyond what has ever been done by a full power broadcast station before. Being local is not enough though. If we don’t offer high quality, interesting content, then people will not watch, local or not.

One side benefit to WNY though is that if we do well and we do make money, it will force the other stations to take note. They may not be able to be much more local, and they certainly don’t want to be, but if we start to be a threat to the many millions of dollars that the other stations drain from Buffalo each year, they will have no choice but to increase their efforts to serve the local population.

Where will WBBZ’s local programming be produced?

In the Eastern Hills Mall where people can come and see everything we do in our glassed-in studios and be part of what we do as part of our studio audiences.

If WBBZ is successful, would you consider expanding to acquire other stations elsewhere?

At this time our job and thoughts are centered on being the best we can be for Buffalo and Western New York.

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