Some interesting findings from the Pew folks in their new study "State of the News Media," particulary related to consolidation and joint sales agreements in local television.
Pew says 290 stations changed hands in 2013, accounting for $8.8 billion in local TV M&A—way, way up from the $1.9 billion in station sales activity in 2012.
Joint sales agreements (JSAs) exist in at least 94 markets, says Pew, up from 55 in 2011. The number of stations producing news has dropped 8% since 2005, reports the study, with around one-quarter of the 952 stations that air local news getting the content from another station. Pew explains the concept of sidecar arrangements and notes how reliant Sinclair and Nexstar, among others, have become on the model.
The value of JSAs to the public is topic A in Washington these days. “The overall impact of news sharing is difficult to assess," says the study. "In some cases, these agreements have reduced the variety of voices and news content available to local viewers; in other cases, they have strengthened quality and enabled underfunded or smaller stations to continue providing news.”