Cross-ownership means better TV?

Here’s the headline: The audience gets more news from TV stations owned by companies that also own a newspaper in the same market. According to an article in Broadcasting & Cable, research done at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that “cross-ownership of broadcast outlets and daily newspapers in the same town has a positive impact on the quality of local news coverage.”

Professor Jeff Milyo’s study compared the local news content of cross-owned TV stations to other network-affiliated stations in the same market and found:

  • Local TV newscasts for cross-owned stations have on average one to two minutes more news coverage than non-cross-owned stations, or 4-8 percent more news;
  • Cross-owned stations have 7-10 percent more local news than non-cross-owned stations;
  • Cross-owned stations offer 25 percent more coverage of local and state politics than non-cross-owned stations.

The full report, commissioned by the FCC, also includes some interesting findings about the political slant of local news, and features a good list of markets and the cross-owned media properties within them. Critics of cross-ownership will likely cite Milyo’s relationship with the Cato Institute as a reason to suspect the findings. His report is supported by some previous FCC-commissioned studies completed in 2002 for the first round of hearings on this issue:

Local News & Public Affairs Programming on Broadcast Television
Viewpoint Diversity in Cross-Owned Newspapers & Television Stations

That research was blasted as invalid as well.


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