Nexstar's Campaign to Preserve Local TV
In the past weeks I have seen and gotten several e-mails wanting to know what the heck the "Preserve Local TV" spots have been about. Just today I ran across an article on the subject written by Nexstar owned KTAL's General Manager Scott Thomas. This article is from nwlanews.com:
"In the coming weeks and months the FCC will begin wrestling with the complex issue of media ownership. The question the FCC is seeking to answer: “How many TV stations can one company own?”
This issue is complex with billions of dollars and thousands of jobs hanging in the balance. The current regulations were originally drafted in 1953 and are to say the least, outdated.
Today’s complex world of ever changing telecommunications is well beyond the scope of the original legislators imaginations. These antiquated regulations are inadvertently limiting broadcasters’ ability to compete and must be changed.
Why should you care? Well.....if you like seeing local news you better care.
Can you imagine a time when you turned on your TV in search of Local News or weather and there was none — or there was just one local source.
This seems unthinkable. Maybe in the Middle East, or Europe, but not in the good ole US of A. Not in the vast 500 channel universe of National cable and satellite TV.
How could that happen? Is something like that even possible? As far fetched as that may sound, the answer is Yes.
Believe it or not this scenario is actually a reality for many Americans now. If the FCC doesn’t do something soon, more Americans will begin to see less local news. Currently, there are 15 TV markets that only have one news station and 113 markets that only have two news stations.
Why is local news at risk? The FCC is regulating it to death. Television news production is a very expensive proposition. In a medium sized market like ours, we invest well over two million dollars a year with over 40 employees to put a quality product on the air.
We can do that because we’re part of a financially healthy television group. Many weaker stations across the country have simply given up and gotten out of the news business.
This has happened in cities like St. Louis, Mo. and Billings, Mt. When the local stations are gone, what’s left? Fox news and CNN. How many interviews have you seen with your local Mayor on Fox News? Zero.
With so much at stake the debate is growing vociferous. There are those who argue against multiple station ownership. Special interest groups say media monopolies would arise and the public would be manipulated.
Fifty years ago that would have been a pretty good argument. But in this day and age it simply doesn’t hold water. Even if somebody wanted to hatch an Orwellian “Control the Media” conspiracy, it would be an impossible task. There’s just too much content for any one entity to control. Besides, a successful media monopoly would also have to control print and the worldwide web.
James Quello was an FCC Commissioner/Chairman for over 23 years. At the beginning of his tenure he was a staunch defender of media regulation. He says it’s time for change, “Telecommunications in America have drastically changed... thus necessitating a more practicable marketplace approach to government regulation and legislation.”
So why should the FCC change its rules and let companies own more stations? The answer is simple. It’s in the best interest of the people served by those stations.
Healthy ownership groups don’t abandon news. In fact, they embrace it. Since its creation ten years ago Nexstar Broadcasting Group, KTAL’s parent company, has brought news to eight stations that previously had no news product and increased news production in 25 other markets.
Here in our market we produce over a thousand hours of local news every year. In the process we employ over forty professionals. Those are good jobs that support forty families and pump money into our local economy.
In the end the decision is up to the FCC. I think responsible media groups are good for television. I think multiple station ownership will protect and improve local news. I think it will help stations improve their ability to bring more news to the people they serve. I think it will be good for America. If you think like I do, let your legislators know. Go to PreserveLocalTV.com and let your voice be heard."