YouTube's Local TV News Push: Letting Wolf Into Hen House?

Local TV news is under attack by news viewers fleeing to the Internet and other pursuits. Now a number of new parties want to pick up the remains that are left.

One of the biggest names in video, YouTube, has started up a local TV news module on its Web site, News Near You, where TV stations can place their videos, which can be targeted to Internet users depending on their geographic location. YouTube will split whatever revenues it gets with stations.

So far this has attracted 200 TV stations still looking for the promise of a big Internet future, which up until now has had a fuzzy picture.

But YouTube isn't alone. Companies such as NBC Universal have been buying up a number of local-market Internet sites where it doesn't have  an NBC affiliate such as and While not directly looking to use local news resources, NBC has designs, according to some executives, on grabbing a bigger piece of local video content and market share.

Much of the value of local TV stations come from hard-working, but not necessarily glamorous, local on-air journalists with deep knowledge of their markets.  

While TV stations have been cutting back -- if not eliminating high-priced newscasts and talent -- other companies see money to be made.

You can talk about  citizen journalism all you want, but at the end of the day there will be a need for pros -- those with some experience  to make sense of it all and provide a complete picture for Internet users/TV viewers.

YouTube's appeal is obvious. As the biggest video site, it gives TV stations what they can't get locally: scale. By using a site with 100 million unique visitors a month, TV stations theoretically have greater access to more ad revenues than just relying on their locally targeted Internet-branded sites.

But the next stop might not be to any station's liking. What if, years from now,  YouTube offered a live, five-minute streaming local market newscast for each of the 200 or so U.S. markets?  

Would TV stations regret the decision they made today? Should this get traction, there might be no looking back.



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