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Local TV, Cable Are Top Choices for News During Pandemic

Los Angeles stations covering a COVID-19 press conference.
(Image credit: KTLA)

Local TV and cable news nets are in a virtual tie for the title of primary source of news since the beginning of the pandemic.

That is according to a new survey of over 5,000 U.S. news consumers conducted by strategic consulting firm Altman Solon.

According to the survey, 26% of respondents cited local TV news channels as their chief news source, followed by cable news at 25% (essentially a dead heat given the margin of error), then network newscasts at 22%, online news sites at 14%, and social media at 10%.

Among the other survey highlights:

  1. At a time of concern about fake news, almost one in three Americans said they would be willing to pay more for "well-researched and reliable news."
  2. 27% said they were more likely to pay for racially diverse news, while 26% would do so for news with gender diversity and 22% for news exhibiting sexual orientation diversity.
  3. 34% are watching three or more hours of news per week.

The web survey was conducted August-September 2020 and has a margin of error of 1%.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.