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TV website profitability climbs, survey says

More TV station websites are turning a profit in 2010, and many sites are increasing their content while eliminating elements that don’t work, according to the RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey.

In the last year, profits from TV station websites have climbed 4.3 percent, the survey found. The survey also revealed that stations with larger staffs devoted to the Web are more likely to make a profit.

TV websites are maturing with text, still pictures and news video, which are essentially universal on all sites, the survey found. Audio, live cameras, recorded newscasts and blogs are increasingly being used; however, streaming audio, podcasts and allowing visitors to assemble their own newscasts have leveled off or declined.

According to Bob Papper, professor and chairman of the Hofstra Department of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations and director of the survey, the results suggest stations increasingly are cutting back or eliminating aspects of their websites that do not work well for them.

Consistent with results from prior years, the largest stations tend to have the most complex websites. There are no meaningful distinctions based on network affiliation or geography, the survey revealed.

Based on the survey results, Papper estimates staffing for TV websites has on average risen as much as one full-time employee and one-part time employee over the last year. The survey also found that newsroom employees “helping on the Web” for TV sites went up 10 percent over the last year.