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Radio Stations Are Airing Less Local News, Survey Finds.

Overall, 65% of commercial stations run local news, on par with last year’s 66.2%. A year ago, the survey says there was a 10-point reduction in non-commercial stations running local news. This year, the percentage of non-commercial stations running local news fell another 2 points to 60.7%.

The report’s authors, Bob Papper and Keren Henderson, say they don’t know why there’s been a drop in local news at non-commercial stations. But this year’s numbers, they say, support the idea that last year’s decline was neither a fluke nor a survey anomaly.

“There’s a common perception that locally owned radio stations are more likely to produce local news than stations that are not locally owned,” the authors write. “But that’s never been the case every time we’ve looked at the issue — until this year. Overall, 75.3% of locally owned station groups run local news, and 71.5% of non-locally owned station groups run local news. The percentage of locally owned groups running local news is virtually unchanged from last year, but non-locally owned station groups fell 12 points from a year ago.”

The difference is even sharper when looking at individual stations — overall, 68.4% of locally owned stations run local news versus 54.1% of non-locally owned stations.

The survey finds that the median amount of weekday local news dropped 8 minutes. (Last year, minutes increased by 3 per weekday.) The average dropped more than 20 — roughly back to where it was two years ago. “The biggest drop in average minutes came in large markets, suggesting that fewer all news or news/talk stations there filled out the Survey this year,” the authors say. “Medium markets are down a bit; small markets dropped an average of over 20 minutes per weekday.”

Commercial stations experienced a decrease in average minutes aired, whereas non-commercial stations saw an increase in average minutes but a slight decline in median minutes.

On weekends, average minutes decreased universally, with most stations completely forgoing local news except for 5 minutes on Saturdays in smaller markets.

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