Jun 9, 2011

94 percent of noncom stations air less than half hour of local news daily, FCC report says

"Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age," a report on the future of media in America from the Federal Communications Commission, was released today (June 9). Here (PDF) is the section on public broadcasting.

It notes that while PBS "airs some of the best journalistic documentaries on TV," public television "has placed a much smaller emphasis on local news." An FCC analysis of Tribune Media Services Data shows that 94 percent of noncom stations air less than 30 minutes of local news daily. It also said there are "significant financial obstacles standing in the way of more local public TV news and information programming." More detail on local news coverage from the Associated Press.

Early reaction is mixed. “We are still reviewing the voluminous document, but at first glance it appears to be a major disappointment," said one statement, from the Free Press media advocacy group. "The report discusses many important ideas, but where the FCC actually has the power to help local communities, the agency abdicates its responsibility in the areas. Worse yet, instead of striking a bold path forward, the FCC chairman appears to be backing away from the positive, though baby steps made by his Republican predecessors on the issues of competition, localism and diversity."

Other broadcasters are praising its proposals to drop certain paperwork requirements, and do away with the fairness doctrine. 

WLRN protests pubcasting cuts by ending state-funded legislative coverage

WLRN in Miami is dropping use of the Florida Public Radio Network in protest of Gov. Rick Scott's decision to end all funding to public broadcasters in the state — except to WFSU, which will still receive $1.8 million for the legislative-focused Florida Channel. John LaBonia, g.m. of WLRN, says the station will instead report on the state government by joining the combined bureau in Tallahassee created by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald.

"The governor zeroed out public broadcasting because he's calling it a special interest," LaBonia told the Times. "When you single out one station and give to it but nobody else, that's the definition of a special interest."