Monday, August 22, 2011

KSDK | As revenue strengthens, TV stations add newscasts and even some employees, NYT reports

Three years after the TV broadcasting industry buckled under the weight of the ad recession, the more popular stations in markets like St. Louis -- where Gannett owns KSDK -- are adding newscasts and in some cases employees, though not as many as were dismissed during the downturn, according to a New York Times story today.

"Station economics affect the nation’s news diet," the NYT says, "because local TV news is consistently identified in surveys as the top news source for most Americans."

Why now? Advertisers are coming back. So-called retransmission fees are climbing. And the recession forced stations to innovate, especially around news-gathering, according to the NYT.

GCI's 23 TV stations have buoyed overall revenue. For example, in the second quarter, broadcasting revenue including Captivate rose fractionally, at 0.2 of a percentage point, to $184 million. But in GCI's largest division, newspapers, advertising and subscription revenue fell 5.2%, to $912 million, regulatory filings show.

Last year, on the strength of Olympics and political advertising, broadcasting accounted for 14% of GCI's overall $5.4 billion in revenue, according to the company's annual 10-K report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2009: 11% of $5.5 billion.

That's translated into a net increase in broadcasting jobs, even as GCI's overall employment tumbled once more. Last year, the division ended the year with 2,550 employees -- up 2% from 2009. In the U.S. newspaper division, by contrast, employment fell 9%, to 22,400.


  1. This may well be a Gannett wide trend. KPNX is also expanding its local news shows - revamping the early morning show and adding an hour in the afternoon. They're now live from 4:00PM - 5:30PM, break for network 5:30PM - 6:00PM and then go live again from 6:00PM - 6:30PM.

    The 4 - 5:30 show is not pitched as a news show though (they did a segment on different shaped ice cubes in local bars) but as a "show with news in it." It's a chatty thing filled with happy talk.

  2. Comcast committed to hiring hundreds of new employees at the NBC O&Os.

    It's less clear that a primarily newspaper company like Gannett will follow suit. The TV people in the locals hate being owned by Gannett because they know at some level it doesn't really matter how good they do at being successful at TV, that they'll never get the full rewards for it because the much larger part of the business is tanking.

    If Gannett sold its TV stations, there would be general rejoicing at all those stations.

  3. I worked at one of the TV stations and did revenue models for those early morning shows. At 430A the viewing levels in any market are extremely low. However, they just bring in the morning people at pretty much the same time and run a news show with no additional overhead. So now they try to charge $25 a spot in a 430A newscast instead of $5 or $10 overnight rotator. They'll still run lots of those overnights though. The funny thing is they just try to position it as serving the viewers in the market. Which is pretty much a joke. The newscasts and news departments are shells of their previous selves.


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