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One of the challenges for local TV newsrooms as they embrace the digital age is balancing broadcasting and narrowcasting: one size fits all versus one size fits me. Websites and apps allow for a degree of personalization that TV has never been able to match. But that may be about to change.
“There are challenges because, as you can probably imagine, some things that are important to our folks out in Valdosta may not be as important to our folks all the way here in Leon County,” says Sabrina Fuller, news director at WCTV, a Gray station that’s based in Tallahassee, Florida but also serves Valdosta and Thomasville across the state line in Georgia. “To be able to target a story to folks who live in Thomasville so that it’s at the forefront of what they see — that’s what people crave more and more.”
That’s why Fuller’s station is ground zero for a highly experimental technology that allows viewers to integrate hyperlocal stories with the traditional broadcast signal. “What’s happening is, the TV screen is becoming a website,” says Gray Television’s CTO David Burke. “A television set now has a back channel to it: an IP [internet protocol] stream that hits a television set. So you can do a lot of things other than just play video and audio. By default, it knows where you’re located. And now with the user call to action, you can see stories or weather that are geo-local to your location on