You can’t turn on a national news program or cable news channel these days without being bombarded with political news and opinion—and breaking through all that political noise to get your brand or spokesperson featured in a positive TV news story seems near impossible. But is it? Not according to a nationwide survey of local TV news stations, conducted by D S Simon Media.
Local TV news stations plan to devote only 26 percent of their morning news programs to political news during the 2020 election cycle
“Because local TV news executives understand that the political junkies in their market will be watching the cable network that aligns with their political beliefs, they are not putting resources into covering politics to the degree expected,” said Douglas Simon, CEO at D S Simon Media, in a news release. “This opens up an enormous opportunity for brands and non-profits to get positive media coverage in important markets by making their spokespeople available.”
The firm received 101 responses from news directors, managers, producers and reporters at local TV stations. As the chart below indicates, two-thirds of the stations surveyed will spend 25 percent or less of their newscast on politics during what is expected to be a historically heated election campaign.
The firm found a significant difference between the amount of network and local coverage through an analysis of political content on TV news following the first Democratic Presidential debate in July. As expected, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were wall-to-wall political coverage. The nightly network newscasts devoted 38 percent of their programs to political coverage. Less than 6 percent of all local network affiliate newscasts in New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orlando and Austin was devoted to political news.
According to Pew Research more people watch local TV news than all cable news channels combined. “More than 80 percent of these journalists prefer to interview brand spokespeople than third-party expert and the interviews they conduct tend to be overwhelmingly positive,” said Simon. “This creates an enormous opportunity for positive media coverage for non-profits and brands by making their spokespeople available through in-person and satellite interviews.
The survey was conducted between July 29 and August 9, 2019 with respondents receiving the survey via email and answering anonymously.