Spurred by the announcement of deep cuts at ABC, there’s a story in Monday’s New York Times by our friend Brian Stelter and Bill Carter that focuses on the changes the news divisions at ABC and CBS face.
The same compelling motive already instigated strategic retrenchment at ABC’s broadcast competitors. NBC, the one network with a cable news channel, MSNBC — and, not coincidentally, the only network in a sound position of profitability — has drastically pared down its operations over the last few years. So has CBS, which is losing money already and has cut about 70 jobs this year.
The FOX broadcast network doesn’t have a national nightly news telecast. Probably not a terrible spot to be in at this point.
But despite huge ratings attrition for the broadcast nightly news telecasts over the last 30 years, the story notes today’s broadcast news telecasts are still bigger than any of the shows on the cable news networks:
While they have steadily shed viewers, to a cumulative 22 million in 2009, from about 50 million in 1980, the newscasts still amass an audience that dwarfs any show on a cable news channel. In the last five years, the more lucrative network morning shows have also shown declines, Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said. “What’s occurring in broadcast news is not some sudden crisis. This has been a glacial erosion,” he said.