Journalism and the free press are a bedrock of American democracy and for over a century, over-the-air broadcasters have served those values and the public interest in unique and beneficial ways. Yet, even as free, accessible and reliable content remains in high demand, it is being undermined on multiple fronts.
As the advertising market has become dominated by a few giant online platforms, broadcast station advertising revenues have significantly declined, making local journalism, news and investigative reports more difficult to support.
In addition, the dominance and behavior of these platforms in the advertising marketplace has resulted in the diversion of advertising revenue away from local broadcast stations and the solidification of these platforms as advertising gatekeepers that do not act in the public interest. Not only is local journalism now at risk due to this unchecked competitive position held by a handful of dominant digital players, but so is the ability of trusted and accurate information reaching the public.
For example, a recent study demonstrated how Google News drives traffic away from local news, “even on topics for which communities may be looking for local news.” The irony is that many online and social media platforms are running rampant with misinformation and conspiracy theories – a dangerous element in today’s sharply divided society. What Americans need most is news they can trust – news that is fact-checked and verified, which is exactly what local broadcasters provide.
Local media is more important than ever. During the COVID-19 pandemic, broadcasters have consistently demonstrated their connections to their local communities, from providing the most relevant local news and emergency updates to sharing trusted education and investing in community service. That work is ongoing; NAB is working with RJI Research to create tools for broadcasters on sharing the most effective messaging on the COVID-19 vaccine. On this issue and many more, local media like radio and television stations provide the news Americans trust most.
NAB is working to support local media in a diversifying marketplace. In fall 2020, NAB filed these comments with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law regarding the dominant marketplace power of digital technology platforms, including Google.
NAB issued this statement in response to the release of a report by the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee about alleged antitrust violations by digital platforms. NAB issued this statement in response to the introduction of a report from Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (WA) regarding the impact of large digital platforms on the future of local journalism.
There’s no denying that big tech’s competitive power is dominating the marketplace for advertising and audiences, putting local journalism at risk at a time when media outlets already face severe economic challenges. Local radio and TV broadcasters look forward to engaging with Congress this year on bipartisan solutions that support the future of local journalism and our ability to continue to serve our communities.