Local journalism produced by broadcast radio and TV stations continues to be the most trusted, highly consumed and valued news source for the American public. It is also very costly to produce. Yet, its consumption and the advertising dollars that support it are shifting to technology platforms where broadcasters cannot recoup their investment.

Because of unequal bargaining power between broadcasters and the technology platforms, local radio and TV broadcasters do not share in the economic benefit they create for the platforms. This competitive imbalance puts a severe strain on the economics of local broadcasters and threatens their continued investment in local journalism.

BIA Advisory Services interviewed top executives at local radio and TV broadcast groups to dig into the potential economic impacts incurred from Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. While each of these major tech platforms impact broadcasters, it was the uncompensated use of local news content by Google and Facebook that generated the greatest concern among local broadcasters.

A BIA study commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters estimated local broadcasters lose nearly $2 billion annually when their news and other local content appears in Google Search and Facebook News Feeds.

The immediate impacts on local broadcasters from other platforms, namely Apple and Amazon, are not yet as dire, but the potential for future harm is likely as these platforms also have immense market power.

BIA’s study of the tech platforms’ impact on local broadcasting concluded:

  • no technology platform currently offers a viable economic model for broadcast news;
  • algorithms do not properly weight local broadcast news;
  • broadcast news is not properly identified and often appears alongside questionable sources and misinformation; and
  • under the guise of user privacy, Google gains even more market power.

According to Rick Ducey, managing director at BIA Advisory Services, the growth of technology platforms presents the potential for substantial future harm to the broadcast industry if not constrained by government action.

Recently, Reps. David Cicilline (RI-1) and Ken Buck (CO-4) and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN) and John Kennedy (LA) introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to address the issue of fair compensation for news content that is published online. This bill would allow news outlets, such as broadcasters, to negotiate collectively with technology platforms for better terms of their news content. Broadcasters support this legislation.

Preserving quality, trusted journalism in communities will require policies that ensure broadcasters are fairly and justly compensated for their valuable content. Learn more at nab.org/BigTech.