Some good news for a change. The most recent RTNDA/Hofstra annual survey of local broadcast TV news directors reported that employment and profitability has rebounded somewhat from the levels of the last couple of years. They also indicated that their stations are airing more local news than ever.
The report indicates that stations added 750 new jobs (net aggregate), just under half the jobs lost in 2009/2010 (1600 net aggregate). The RTNDA also reports that the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) reported a net gain in newspaper employment of only 100 in 2010. While increases are good, the total newspaper employment numbers in the U.S. are still down 13,500 jobs from 2007 levels.
The RTNDA also reports that more stations are reporting that their local TV news is profitable (57.4% of stations in 2011 - the highest level since 2004). Only 7% of station news directors reported that their local news lost money, although more than a quarter of news directors didn't know whether their news operation was profitable or not. The report indicated that local news accounts for roughly half of station revenues (although the percentage was significantly lower for both the largest (38.6% of revs) and smallest markets (markets 151+, with news accounting for 43% of revenues).
The report indicates that the amount of local news being produced by TV station continues to grow. On average, local TV stations affiliated with one of the four major networks produced an average of 5.6 hours of local news per day. Non-affiliated stations produced much less, averaging two and a half hours a day. And it looks like the amount of local news programming will continue to grow, with about 37% of stations indicating that they will increase the amount of local news coverage next year, and only 1% indicating a planned decrease in hours.
Source: "Staffing and Profitability" RTNDA Research blog