Gray Television has opened a news bureau in Washington, D.C., to provide analysis of issues taking place on Capitol Hill that are relevant to the 44 markets in which Gray owns and/or operates TV stations. The move positions Gray for what it expects to be a record-breaking 2016 presidential election in terms of political revenue, exceeding the group’s 2012 take of around $118 million. Gray said the Bureau would enable local communities to interact more directly with their senators, members of Congress and administration officials.
Gray said its stations delivered more than two dozen lawmaker interviews and custom news stories in conjunction with President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Jan. 20. Gray noted that “the platform allowed lawmakers to deliver their messages about the president’s speech directly to constituents, rather than through a generic national cable news platform, while giving viewers a comprehensive look at how the president's proposals would impact their communities. ”
Gray tapped Jacqueline Policastro to head up the bureau. Policastro previously worked at Associated Press Television in Washington, and has extensive experience as a reporter and anchor in Indianapolis and Erie, Pa. Policastro created the D.C. Bureau for Lilly Broadcasting, and the Gray and Lilly bureaus now collaborate on a daily basis.
The Washington News Bureau is located inside the NBC News Capitol Hill Bureau at 400 N Capitol Street, with additional dedicated newsgathering resources in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery.
Gray owns and operates stations in 44 markets that broadcast 139 programming streams, including 76 Big Four affiliates—26 channels affiliated with the CBS; 24 channels affiliated with the NBC; 16 with ABC and 10 with Fox. Gray has No. 1 ranked stations in 29 of its 44 markets and No. 1 and 2 ranked stations in 40 of 44 markets. This gives Gray a leg up in political races as well as retransmission negotiations, according to Wells Fargo analysts.
“With stations in 40 markets out of 44 ranked No. 1 or 2, [Gray] has the highest-quality station portfolio amongst all the broadcasters. We remind you that the highest quality stations are able to take the largest share in political dollars per market and is a point of leverage during retrans negotiations,” they said in a Dec. 3, 2014 note following an investor conference.