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Working Paper

The Measurement of Local Television News and Public Affairs Programs

Thomas Spavins, Loretta Dennison, Jane Frenette, and Scott Roberts

Media Bureau Staff Research Paper 2002-7 (Sept 2002) finds evidence indicating that the performance of network owned-and-operated (O&O) stations and affiliates is virtually identical with respect to ratings of early evening newscasts. With respect to the receipt of awards for local news operations, however, network O&Os outperform affiliates.  Moreover, network O&Os appear to produce, on average, a greater quantity of local news and public affairs programming than affiliates in markets where the two station types compete directly.

Within the class of affiliates, the authors find that there is clear variation in performance between affiliates that are owned in common with a newspaper publisher and all other network affiliates. Affiliates co-owned with newspapers experience noticeably greater success under our measures of quality and quantity of local news programming than other network affiliates.

Issued: September 2002
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