For the last few years, this blog has been alerting our readers about the increased presence of Shared Services Agreements within US television markets. The SSA’s have been damaging to communities, leading to layoffs, increased workloads and a lack of objective voices.
Finally, a media watchdog group has taken on the challenge of fighting against the trend.
The group, FreePress has launched a new campaign to stop what they call “covert consolidation”, a practice they say skirts federal ownership laws by sharing content and original reporting between stations within the local news market.
They launched a website called, ChangetheChannels.org. The website’s main page shows the viewer a map pinpointing various markets have have been consolidated over the last four years and their status from severe, more severe and most severe.
Of the 80 channels, almost half were considered most severe, including the market I used to work in, Syracuse. The website mentioned that it’s, “…suffering from one of the worst cases of covert consolidation in the country; five of its commercial TV stations produce just two distinct newscasts and are controlled by only two companies. Three of those stations, WSTM, WSTQ and WTVH, are part of an anti-competitive conspiracy that spans two states…Because of these covert operations, Syracuse suffers from a higher degree of consolidation than almost any other media market in the country.”
Millions of dollars in political advertisements have been generated over the years, but the profits made by these companies have not trickled down to its workers. Too many people I’ve known and worked with over the years have been affected by this trend. It’s heartbreaking to see how their lives have been shaped by the act of a few, greedy corporations.
Hopefully, this campaign gather steam! It’s time the trend stops!