“Sports & Weather, Crime, Fluff Dominate L.A. TV News,” was the headline of a USC Norman Lear Center study issued Thursday, which won’t really come as news to anybody who has tried watching local TV.
Still, there are some interesting tidbits within the study (the full report is available online), which asks, “Are Stations Serving the Public Interest?”
KCOP carried the most crime, more than 5 minutes per half-hour,
compared to an average of 2:50. KNBC and KCBS spent the least time on
The most entertainment news, about double the average, was on KTTV
(over 4 minutes). The least was on KCAL (0:42). KTTV also ran the most
stories coded as soft, odd or miscellaneous (3:26); the least in that
category was on KABC (1:52) and KCBS (1:31).
KCAL carried the most coverage of local
government (49 seconds in a half-hour) and of the local economy and
Coverage of business and the economy in
Los Angeles averaged 29
seconds. Teasers (“coming up on the Southland’s best news…”) lasted
more than four times that amount (2:10).
The time spent on ads (8:25), teasers,
and sports and weather takes up
nearly half of a typical half-hour of local news. Of the time left for
everything else (15:44), almost half (8:17) was made up of stories
taking place outside the L.A. media market.
Again, none of this comes as a real shock, inasmuch as local news is more influenced now by TMZ than the Los Angeles Times, making its priorities even more tabloid than in the past. But it’s interesting to see what’s obvious to those who watch — and have tuned out — local news quantified in this fashion. Frankly, I’ve pretty much given up on L.A. TV stations as a news source, other than checking weather and sports highlights. And I’d watch them even less if I wasn’t a DirecTV subscriber who gets “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” at 8 and 8:30 p.m.
The report also compares percentages of TV coverage to those in the Los Angeles Times — an imprecise, somewhat apples-and-oranges proposition, but an interesting one nevertheless.