Monday debate: The future of local TV news

This week in my J201 class I’m talking to my students about broadcast journalism on local and cable television.  As part of my lecture preparation I always consult the superb “The State of the News Media” report put together annually by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.  Here’s what they have to say about local television news these days:

Stations, after years of declines in audience, may be nearing a point where they can no longer add new newscasts or new revenue opportunities, such as sponsored segments, to its old ones.Stations are banking on new technology, and indeed this is the one area where the numbers are moving in the right direction. As more people use the Web and mobile devices to browse video, stations stand to gain. Stations are expected to see brisk revenue growth from their online properties — websites and mobile — for years to come. But online only amounted to 8% of station revenues in 2009, and there is little prospect of it significantly buoying them anytime soon.

And TV stations weren’t the only media outlets seeking local revenue from Web and mobile devices, and some of their competitors are ahead of stations in getting into the game. Stations only had a 10% share of local online ad spending in 2009.

Amid all this, the simmering conflicts between local affiliates and the networks are intensifying. Networks are demanding a share of the fees that cable systems pay to local stations to carry their broadcasts, revenue the stations say they can ill afford to part with. In exchange, station owners could seek more influence over programming or more opportunities to sell local ads during network broadcasts.

The affiliates come to the bargaining table with a vivid illustration of their clout. NBC’s decision to cancel the Jay Leno Show was largely driven by the complaints of station managers.

(You can read the rest of the text here.)

The report also includes plenty of tabluar and graphical data, like this pie chart showing “Who gets local online ad revenue” (source: Borrell Associates)

(Here a “pure play” media site is one that works only through the Web.)

Would anyone like to weigh in with their views of the direction that local television news will take in the next ten years?