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Study: Local TV Up in Recession

Despite the depressed economic state of local television, a new study shows that people rely on their local TV stations for news as much as ever, and perhaps more. Conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates for Hearst-Argyle Television, the survey showed TV and newspapers in a dead heat in the "my most important source of information in my community" category. Some 47% of respondents rated local TV news a 4 or 5 (5 meaning ‘Strongly agree'). Newspapers also got 47%--well ahead of Websites (30%), radio (17%) and magazines (7%).

The study did not survey the general population. It polled 2,500 local TV news viewers (those who said they watch local news twice a week or more) between the ages of 25-54 who live in markets where Hearst-Argyle has stations.

As the storm season kicks off across much of the country, 66% of respondents cited local television as their most important source of weather news. Next up was the Web (41%) and radio (17%), with newspapers clocking in at 11%.

Respondents also seemed to connect with TV advertising. In terms of which medium's advertising they're more engaged with, respondents favored local TV news over direct mail (55% to 45%), newspapers (64% to 36%) and radio (72% to 28%).

In terms of which medium's advertising best keep consumers "in the know" about what's available in the market, newspapers were tops-just ahead of local TV news. Newspapers also were supreme in terms of being "a respectable place to advertise"-59% rating the category a 4 or a 5, better than TV's 57%. Local TV news and magazines topped the charts in terms of "memorable advertisements."

The bleak economy also seems to benefit local television. Fully 99% of respondents said they were watching local TV news as much or more than in the past as a result of the economy; 16% said they were watching "more", second only to the Internet with 17%. Newspapers scored a 10% in that category-though another 11% said they were using newspapers less since the economy dropped off a cliff.

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.