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06.28.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Broadcast TV’s killer app: The weather


More TV viewers are watching local news to get weather reports, according to a new study.

Most people watch local TV news not for its hometown reporting, but to get the weather forecast, according to a new study.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press says 53 percent of television viewers like weather information. By comparison, only 32 percent follow the news reports.

This could explain the phenomenal success of the Weather Channel, an idea that was met with some derision by the broadcast industry in the early days of cable.

Pew also found that the public is skeptical of news outlets and those who run them. More than half of the public (53 percent) said they don’t trust what news organizations say and 48 percent believe people who determine news content are out of touch. All three major network newscasts are in the 24 percent believability range.

Older Americans still like their news at a regular time, while 46 percent of viewers are grazers — watching a newscast and then switching to others with the remote. Younger age groups get their news from cable and increasing numbers of people are turning to the Internet for information.

The study found that more Republicans watch the FOX News Channel, while CNN is the leading choice among Democrats. The study also found that Republicans and conservatives are much more skeptical of the news media than Democrats.

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