A record 1,072 TV stations are running local news, according to a new RTDNA/Hofstra survey, the fourth installment of their annual local TV and radio newsroom survey.
That is an additional 10 TV stations running news, which the study attributes to a smaller number of newsrooms running news on more outlets. A total of 369 stations get their news from a TV station partner, up a dozen from the year before.
“Despite all the talk about alleged news deserts across the country, our research clearly shows broadcast and digital journalists are serving their communities throughout America,” said RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley. “And often, the journalism they produce results in positive changes in those communities.”
The survey found that almost a third of respondents (32.2%) were in a news sharing arrangement with another station, about on par with the year before. But that percentage jumps to closer to half (45.5%) for the smallest markets (151-Plus).
RTDNA provided a breakout of local TV news for those "keeping score by affiliation." NBC was tops with 180 stations, followed by CBS with 169, ABC with 168, Fox with 77 (up five from 2017, the biggest increase of any net), and Univision with 36. PBS came in eighth place with 13 stations doing local news.
Fox affiliates led the list of those getting their news from another station (93), with CW a distant second (59).
PBS led the list of affiliates with no local news at 158, followed by Ion at 60.
The survey found that the number of local TV news hours remains at an all-time high of an average 5.6 hours per week, with some hours added in top markets and some retrenchment in smaller markets. The number of hours stayed the same at almost two thirds of the stations, with Fox affiliates the most likely to add news hours.
Local TV news salaries were also on the rise, according to the survey, up 2.7%, which was above the 2.1% inflation rate but below the 2.9% growth in average U.S. wages. The average TV news starting pay was $29,500 (the low was $14,000, the high $65,000).
The survey was conducted in fourth-quarter 2017 among all 1,683 operating, non-satellite, TV stations, with valid responses from 1,333 (79.2%) of those stations.