It’s no surprise to those of us at The Daily Sentinel that the news business has become more costly and more difficult in the early part of the 21st century. That’s true, not just for the newspaper industry, but for broadcast media, as well.
In fact, the challenges facing broadcast news may be even more daunting than those that confront the print industry. Cable outlets, online programming and video recorders all make it more difficult for conventional, network broadcast companies to compete.
Even so, the consolidation that’s occurring in the local television market, as reported by The Daily Sentinel’s Greg Ruland on Sunday, is unfortunate because it is reducing the amount of independent local news reporting available to viewers.
As Ruland wrote, KJCT, the valley’s ABC affiliate, was purchased in October by a company called Excalibur Broadcasting. But Excalibur is what is known as a “sidecar” to Gray Television, which owns KKCO, the local NBC affiliate.
Excalibur owns the FCC license for KJCT, but it contracts with Gray to operate the station. And Gray is reducing costs by duplicating much of its news coverage on both stations and reducing staff. Too bad, because while we obviously believe newspapers remain the best news delivery system available, both of these local stations have done some good original reporting.
All of this is a legal means for large television companies with multiple stations to skirt the FCC rules that no single company own more than one television station in a given market. And, due to the costs and competition facing broadcast television these days, such creative arrangements are understandable. But the resulting consolidation of news staffs and coverage is a disservice to viewers, who now have fewer options for obtaining the news.