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NAB: Local Broadcast TV Newscasts Increased by 35% in Past Decade

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(Image credit: Blackbird)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Association of Broadcasters has unveiled a new analysis of Nielsen data showing that broadcast television stations significantly increased the number of local news telecasts and hours of news content they aired over a 10-year period. 

NAB’s study found that 154,445 local news telecasts aired in November 2021, an increase of nearly 16% from November 2016 and 35% from November 2011. In addition, more than 107,000 hours of local television news content aired in November 2021 across the country, an increase of more than 16% from November 2016 and over 40% from November 2011. 

The analysis, conducted by NAB vice president of research Dan McDonald, found that the number of Spanish-language local news telecasts more than doubled from 2011 to 2021, with nearly 8,300 Spanish-language newscasts representing approximately 4,600 hours airing in November 2021. Broadcast TV stations aired a little more than 4,000 Spanish-language newscasts representing approximately 2,200 hours in November 2011. 

“Despite almost unlimited sources of news and information, Americans continue to turn to their local broadcasters for reliable, trustworthy reporting about the events shaping their lives,” said NAB president and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “Over the past 10 years, broadcasters have invested significantly in their news operations to deliver more fact-based journalism, public affairs programming and emergency information to meet the needs of their communities. This public service is more critical than ever as misinformation and disinformation runs rampant online.” 

The NAB also noted that as broadcasters increase their investments in local news telecasts, the big tech platforms are becoming more dominant in today’s media marketplace, making the economics of local news more challenging.

A 2021 study found that local broadcasters lose an estimated $2 billion annually when their content is accessed through Google and Facebook. These digital platforms are becoming an increasingly dominant power of the local advertising market, which provides the financial foundation for broadcasters’ local news operations. They also serve as gatekeepers for broadcasters’ online content and dictate how broadcasters may monetize their content. 

“In the face of ongoing threats to the economics of local journalism, broadcasters have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to delivering vital local news every day in communities across the country,” said LeGeyt. “Yet, outdated laws and regulations force broadcasters to compete with one arm tied behind their back for advertising dollars and audience. It is imperative that lawmakers act to ensure that broadcasters can continue serving as a trusted source of local news in their communities.”

NAB examined the number of programs classified by Nielsen as “local news” as well as the hours of local news aired across the country, comparing data from the same month (November) in 2011, 2016 and 2021. 

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.