TV Grows As Local News Source p.9

By: MARK FITZGERALD IN THE PAST couple of years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people citing TV as their primary source for local news, a researcher says.
Denice Nichols, vice president of sales for Pulse Research, says the Portland, Ore.-based firm's proprietary studies of numerous markets of various sizes and demographics show an almost universal increase in consumer perception that local television is the number one source of local news.
"It used to be less than 10% to 15% would cite TV as their number one source of local news. Now 30% to 35% of consumers say TV is," Nichols said.
"It doesn't matter what the market is," Nichols added. "We've seen it in very rural markets. We just completed a study of a suburban paper that is in the shadow of a major metro [newspaper], and found TV is the competitor to the suburban paper ? not the metro."
Nichols says she has no hard statistics on why TV has grown so quickly in consumer perception ? but she has a pretty good guess.
"Our assumption is it's a matter . . . of molding public perception with advertising," she said. "TV is spending money to reinforce that perception in the local community. TV keeps marketing itself as a source of local news. It has all those [news show introductions], 'This is your action news.' You and I know that's not true, but TV advertises the perception. And advertising works."
Not only is TV gaining across the board in this battle of perceptions, but the consumer choice of station for local news is also remarkably uniform, Nichols said. "Often times we ask [which station] do you get your local news from, and most often the answer is the ABC [affiliate]," Nichols said. "It seems to track ABC, then NBC and then CBS."
In an interview at the recent America West Regional Newspaper Operations and Technology Conference, Nichols and Pulse Research vice president of marketing Phil Ballard said winning the local news perception war would simply close the circle for TV.
"Already, the trend [of consumers] is to follow national and international news on TV," Ballard said.
Too many newspapers simply refuse to believe TV is cutting into their local news franchise, Ballard said. "Publishers are startled when they are told they are not considered the number one source for local news," he said.
The good news for newspapers is that the medium remains far and away the people's choice for local buying decisions.
"Local [newspaper] advertising has not eroded in perception," Ballard said. "People look to make buying decisions from retail and classified newspaper advertising."
And despite the growing perception about TV news, radio continues to be "not even an element" in the local news battle. In any given market, Nichols said, only about 5% to 7% of respondents will cite radio as their primary source for local news.
And newspapers need not lose ground to TV, either, Nichols argues. "In those markets," she said, "where [newspaper publishers] are sitting down and asking people what they want in their paper, they are not having this problem."


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