So far in 2013, 326 TV stations have been sold or involved in a deal to get new management.
The biggest buyer has been Sinclair.
The Washington Post reports that in the past year, Sinclair has paid almost $2.5 billion to snap up 79 local television stations. For most Americans, local television is still the prime source of news. If all the acquisitions are approved, Sinclair will control that broadcast for a third of U.S. households.
Sinclair is one of a handful of “super group” station owners that includes Gannett, Nexstar and LIN Media. The Baltimore company is family-controlled and has been known to promote the Republican party and right-of-center causes. Its fast-expanding national footprint has raised the guard of media watchdogs.
“We are headed for a world in which fewer than 10 companies will control most of the local TV stations in the entire country,” said Craig Aaron, the president of Free Press, an opponent of media consolidation. “There will be less competition for local scoops, fewer voices on the air and the same cookie-cutter content everywhere you look. As a result, people will be less informed.”
The overlap is probably most apparent to viewers who follow on-air talent. In Columbus, for example, anchor Adam Aaro is listed on the Web site for both ABC (channel 6) and its sidecar station, Fox 28. Indeed, the stations’ news teams are virtually the same. In Charleston, the Fox channel 11 newsroom is produced by the same team — including anchor Rick Lord, weatherman Jim Barach and sportscaster Mark Martin — that does the news on Sinclair-owned WCHS Channel 8.
In other words, with all these sales and companies consolidating newsrooms, there are going to be less jobs open for people in TV news.
The news product itself will suffer.
It seems to be very much like the newspaper industry. Some of you can remember when markets had two or more papers. As they they become one paper towns, the competition dried up and now the entire newspaper industry is on life support.
Could TV news be headed down the very same road?