More TV stations than ever are running local news

TV stations ran more hours of local news than ever in 2017, according to research from the Radio Television Digital News Association and Hofstra University.

Stations ran an average of 2.2 hours on weekends and 5.6 hours on weekdays, and about one-third of stations increased the amount of local news they broadcast. Consistent with past years, stations with larger staffs and in larger markets were likely to run more local news coverage.

There were 1,072 TV stations across the country running local news in 2017 — an all-time high, and an increase of ten from 2016.

graph 1
(via RTDNA/Hofstra University)

The number of TV stations originating local news dropped slightly while the number of stations carrying local news increased, showing that a smaller amount of total newsrooms are running news across more platforms.

A few more quick points from the study:

Stations are planning to add more news to their lineups. Twenty-nine percent of stations said they planned to add more news in 2018, a portion 5 percent higher from the year before. Sixty-one percent said they planned to keep their amount of news the same in 2018.

Almost one-third of stations added a newscast to their schedules in 2017; the majority of stations kept their lineups the same, with only 5 percent cutting a newscast.

graph 2
(via RTDNA/Hofstra University)

Fewer TV stations provided news to other outlets in 2017. About 68 percent of outlets were involved with other media in 2017, a sharp decrease from the previous nine years, where the norm was about 75 percent.

Local radio groups are coordinating and running more local news. More than 81 percent of local radio groups said at least one station in their group ran local news in 2017 — an increase of 3 percent from the year before, and a high over the past five years.

Most stations running local news were primarily music stations, not news or talk stations, and commercial stations tended to run more local news than non-commercial stations. About 15 percent of radio stations said in 2017 that they planned to increase their amount of news.

Fewer than 20 percent of radio stations got local news from an outside provider in 2017, continuing a downward trend. The Associated Press, local newspapers and statewide radio networks saw the sharpest decreases from 2016 to 2017. Larger markets used outside news sources more frequently, and stations in the Midwest used the fewest outside sources.

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    Taylor Blatchford

    Taylor Blatchford is the 2018 Google News Initiative Fellow at The Poynter Institute. She recently graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in investigative and international journalism.

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