When broadcasters go to Congress again and argue that they need more in carriage fees to fund expanding news operations, they might have some new ammunition. The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University survey on employment in the local TV news business found that 2011 had the highest number of full-time employees since 2000 and second-highest ever.
In 2011, the research found that 1,131 jobs were created as the number of full-time employees reached 27,653, a 4.3% increase. In addition, the average station added 1.5 additional employees last year and hired 5.4 replacements.
Last year, there were 725 stations producing local news where the newscasts ran on their stations, and a total of an additional 242 others.
A recent Congressional hearing that touched on the impact of retransmission consent payments between cable/satellite/telco TV operators had some representatives interested in ensuring that any policy change allows for robust local news.
The RTNDA (Radio Television Digital News Association)/Hofstra study found that reporters, producers and photographers were the three leading areas for replacement employees. Producers, reporters and the Internet were the three leading areas for new hires.
For stations in the top-25 markets, the average newsroom full-time staff was 67.7. The most any station had was 240.
In the median number, there was a drop in markets 26 to 50, but major growth in the top 25 and significant increases in markets 51 and up.
The researchers compared the employment growth to a continued decline in the newspaper business, citing data from the American Society of News Editors showing that newsroom employment is at the lowest rate in 35 years. The high point was 1990.
The research was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011, with responses from 1,238 stations, or 71.4%.