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News Notes

RTDNA: 76% of Local Stations Share Content With Other Media

Provide Content to Other Media RTDNA

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University study finds that 75.9% of stations are involved with other media, down about two and a half points from last year. Almost a third of news directors (31.2%) said they ran news on another local station, and the study finds that content ran on an average of 1.4 stations.

The groups less likely to be involved with other stations: the smallest stations in the biggest markets (66% said they shared content) and Fox affiliates (57%).

See the breakdown of what stations share after the jump. Read more

One in Four Stations Do Not Produce Local Content, Study Finds

pew reseach content sharingPew Research Center’s annual State of the News Media report examines the effects of consolidation on the amount of local news audiences receive, reporting that the number of stations producing local news content has dropped 8% since 2005:

A number of television executives and observers say news sharing agreements, driven largely by the wave of station consolidation, offer real benefits for local viewers. For one thing, they say, these agreements make local news available to more viewers by giving them a choice of how it is presented and when to watch it. But critics say that convenience comes at the cost of competition and diversity in news content.

Related: Pew Report Finds Total Value of Station Acquisition Hits 7-Year High

The overall impact of news sharing is difficult to assess. In some cases, these agreements have reduced the variety of voices and news content available to local viewers; in other cases, they have strengthened quality and enabled underfunded or smaller stations to continue providing news.

Pew Report: Total Value of Station Acquisitions Hits 7-Year High

In the annual State of the News Media report, Pew Research Center finds local television station sales in 2013 were up 205% compared to 2012. Nearly 300 stations were sold last year for a total of $8.8 billion, a 367% increase in total value compared to the previous year.

pew report local tv acquisitions

Sinclair led the way among station groups, purchasing 63 stations in 2013. Gannett purchased Belo, adding 20 stations, and Tribune Co. acquired Local TV, expanding its portfolio by 19 stations. The total value of local television acquisitions in 2013 was the highest it has been since 2006.

American Press Institute Study: Local News Most Popular, Most Trusted News Source

A new study by the American Press Institute finds more Americans turn to local stations, either on television or online, than any other news source. The study finds that 82% of people encounter local news in the course of the week, compared to 73% who watch national broadcast news and 62% who watch 24-hour cable news channels.

News SourcesThe study also found that local news was the most trusted of the news sources — although only about half of Americans responded that they trust any of the sources very much or completely.  Read more

‘Judging by Local News, There’s an Even Bigger Story That’s Sweeping the Nation’

In what has become a recurring segment on his late night show, Conan O’Brien poked fun at local newscasts using identical scripts, playing clips from several anchors reading the exact same line: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

“Some people think the top story tonight is President Obama’s State of the Union address or the upcoming Super Bowl. That’s what they think. But judging by local news, there’s an even bigger story that’s sweeping the nation,” O’Brien joked.

Pew: Local TV Audiences Grew in 2013

pew research studyGood news for newsrooms across the country: the local television audience grew in all three major time slots in 2013, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center:

Viewership climbed 6% in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) and 3% in the early evening (5 to 7 p.m.) newscasts, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The audience barely edged up—by .1%—in the late night slot (11 p.m.), a newscast that had suffered the biggest decreases in recent years.

The good news comes after a difficult 2012 when late night and early evening audiences each dropped by 7% and the morning audience decreased by 5%. Indeed, viewership for all three slots had declined every year from 2008-2012—with the exception of a small uptick in 2011. Pew Research analyzes Nielsen Media Research audience data for all four major sweeps periods — February, May, July and November — and computes national averages for each time slot.

Pew reports the viewership increases were the result of a strong November sweeps period: the morning news grew by 12%, evening news was up 8% and late night was up 6%.

Time Warner Reverses Course, Keeps NECN

necn logoTime Warner Cable subscribers in Maine, parts of New Hampshire and the Berkshires can continue to watch New England Cable News after the cable company changed plans to drop the regional cable channel.

According to NECN, viewers, along with several politicians including Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey (D) and Elizabeth Warren (D) along with Maine Senators Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) protested the move.

“We appreciate that the residents of Maine and New England view NECN as a critical service,” Mike St. Peter, NECN senior vice president and general manager said in a statement. “We are thrilled Time Warner heard their customers’ voices and will continue to carry NECN.”

Time Warner said in a statement, “NECN has now agreed to work with our leadership at Time Warner Cable News to improve the quality of their local programming for our customers.” Read more

Conan O’Brien Catches Local Anchors Using Identical Scripts (Again)

In what has become a recurring “Media Reacts” segment on his show, Conan O’Brien poked fun at using identical scripts in local newscasts across the country, playing clips of more than 20 anchors reading the exact same line about holiday shopping: “It’s okay, you can admit it if you’ve bought an item or two or ten for yourself.”

“Scary. I find it frightening,” O’Brien said (video above).

Time Warner Drops New England Cable News

necn logoTime Warner Cable is dropping New England Cable News from its lineup in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. The Portland Press Herald reports viewers are angry about the decision:

“I’m ready to scream,” Julie Deroche of Gray said in a phone interview, joining a chorus of angry Time Warner customers who posted similar opinions online. “They are making the poorest change, in my mind. The bottom line is greed. It’s all about money.”

The announcement followed this week’s breakdown of contract negotiations between NECN and Time Warner, which pays fees to cable channels to carry them on its system. Time Warner Public Relations Director Scott Pryzwansky said the decision was based on several factors, including cost, viewership and unique content, and is final.

Beginning in 2014, Time Warner Cable is adding Al Jazeera America to its lineup, although a spokesperson for Time Warner says the decision “is not connected.”

After Another ‘Conan’ Segment, WECT ND Calls Identical Scripts ‘Embarrassing’

Poynter takes a look at the origins of an identical script — about Mike Myers expecting another child — that was read by 29 anchors across the country. The video aired on “Conan,” with Conan O’Brien sarcastically noting, “local news found a really unique way to tell the story.”

WECT news director Scott Saxton said the line came from CNN News Source wire copy as part of a “Hollywood Minute” segment. “It was a bad representation of our station,” Saxton told Poynter. “It’s embarrassing and unacceptable, and we’ve addressed it within the team.”

This isn’t the first time O’Brien has called out local stations for using identical scripts: there was the story about the election, one about Hostess’ bankruptcy, another about Cyber Monday and even one about O’Brien himself.

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