Free Press writes that the U.S. broadcast television industry is in the midst of a wave of consolidation, which one longtime industry insider described as “the biggest wave ... in the history of television.”1
This wave is leaving in its wake shuttered newsrooms and jobless journalists in communities all across the country. And there is likely much more of this to come.
Local broadcast journalism is already suffering from two decades of rampant media consolidation. Absentee corporate owners, concerned only with profit maximization, long ago pushed out most station owners with ties to their communities. Prioritizing profit above public service, these corporations replaced political reporters with political ads. Cross-promotions for American Idol displaced important news stories. Cheap-to-produce traffic, weather and sports updates now comprise nearly half of all local news programming. And in many communities, the same company owns multiple media outlets: Changing the channel brings the same content from the same newsroom, packaged with slightly altered graphics.
The Federal Communications Commission — the agency tasked with ensuring the public airwaves serve the public interest — has been a willing accomplice to this destruction of local journalism.