Pandemic Puts Spotlight on the Value and Importance of Local TV

Even in a hyperconnected and overheated media environment in which news is available online in a nanosecond, survey after survey by Pew Research Center and others confirm that nearly half the country still gets most of its news, especially local news, from TV outlets.

In the midsize and smaller markets they serve, these network affiliates are the oldest established TV brands, and more often than not they are pillars of the community. They’re the ones that host fundraisers and job fairs in their parking lots. They sponsor Little League teams and walkathons, and they send anchors to supermarket openings and parades. These broadcasters are laser-focused on their local markets because that’s how they maintain
credibility in news programming, which drives so much of a network-affiliatedABCstation’s revenue. 

The television business in the United States was built on the foundation of local affiliates serving a regional audience in partnership with national networks. And that compact hasn’t changed all that much over the years. broadcast station owners now pay the networks for the privilege of the affiliation, whereas in the old days, networks used to pay their affiliates. But the basic construct of a local/national delivery system to get broadcast TV signals into every corner of the country is the same.

During a crisis, the mission to deliver what can be life-saving information to viewers allows the strongest local TV operators to shine. But at a moment like this, when news is moving at lightning speed and viewers are anxious, the role that a strong local TV station plays transcends profit margins and CPMs. It’s a beacon of credible information provided through a wide but regionally targeted reach that only a broadcast station can provide, no matter how much we are addicted to our smartphones.