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Growth in Local TV Doesn’t Always Benefit Newsrooms, Survey Finds

July 23, 2014

Even as the market for local television stations boomed in 2013, a mixed picture emerged for their news operations, a survey has found.

The Pew Research Center reports online that political-advertising revenue grew for local TV stations, as did the fees they receive from cable, satellite and telecommunications companies to carry their programming.

According to the survey from the Radio Television Digital News Association and Hofstra University, TV-news budgets were generally higher, and more stations than ever are airing regular newscasts. But the overall number of staff working in local-TV newsrooms declined slightly, and salaries for anchors and reporters stagnated.

Newsroom cuts were deepest in the 25 largest TV markets, where the median number of full-time employees dropped by 11 percent. But the median staff size for all local stations surveyed was unchanged from 2012, at 31 employees. Median salaries for news anchors dropped from $64,000 in 2012 to $62,500 last year. Salaries for meteorologists were unchanged at about $55,000, but down from $60,000 in 2011. Sports anchors earned $45,000 in each of the past three years. Salaries for TV-news reporters increased slightly, to $31,000 from $30,000 in 2012, but were still down from $32,000 in 2011.

Even as the number of local stations that air newscasts reached a new high of 1,026 in 2013, amid acquisitions and consolidations those that aired a newscast produced by another station rose to 307 — an increase of 50 percent over 2008. — Greg Beaubien



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