RDU will change channels to a new TV network for travelers

bsiceloff@newsobserver.comSeptember 5, 2012 

A new airport television network will make its national debut in November at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where travelers will switch from a single cable news channel to a mix of national and local programming.

Clear Channel Outdoor says its TV service, ClearVision, will blend sports, music, entertainment and news from sources including CBS, NBC, The Wall Street Journal and the Tennis Channel. RDU travelers also are expected to see news, sports and weather from Triangle stations.

“We’ve signed deals with content providers across the networks,” said Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for Clear Channel Outdoor, a Texas-based advertising company. “Now we’ll go do those deals in the Raleigh area to get local content from them as well.”

Clear Channel is talking with other airports it hopes will follow RDU, Cullinan said. All of them will receive much of the same national programming, but the stream to RDU and other airports will be adjusted to serve local audiences, based on feedback from local airport officials.

“They’re reaching out for fresh programming so our passengers can get a real quick hit of information before they get on their plane,” said Michael Landguth, RDU airport director. “ClearVision allows us to tailor programming to provide family-friendly viewing that includes everything from news and weather to sports and sitcoms.”

ClearVision is aimed at a captive national advertising audience – passengers who sometimes wait an hour or more to board their flights – that CNN has dominated for 20 years. CNN says its airport channel reaches 248 million travelers each year at 46 U.S. airports.

RDU dropped CNN a few years ago. Nowadays, Triangle airline passengers see the CNBC feed from Time-Warner Cable. RDU expects to earn about $81,000 a year with its contract for 15 percent of gross ad revenues from the ClearVision broadcast.

“Today our TVs are on Time-Warner, and we don’t get any income,” Landguth said.

ClearVision will be seen on the same big TV monitors in airport gate waiting areas. The company said its service will expand next year when it gives travelers the option to watch TV by linking their wireless phones and other mobile devices to the airport network. RDU began providing free Wi-Fi service in its passenger terminals this month.

If ClearVision takes off, Cullinan said, the “phase two” plan is to give airport travelers a variety of TV channels on their wireless laptops and tablets.

“Eventually you could basically choose from a menu of programming on your device and watch what you want,” Cullinan said. “People today have a variety of choice in what they want to watch and enjoy. Not just one channel.”

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown or twitter.com/Road_Worrier/

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