All media have been extraordinarily affected by the COVID pandemic. According to Business Insider, radio advertising dollars in the U.S. declined by as much as 25% in 2020. Experts expect a rebound in 2021, but the efficiency paradigm has already changed. Stations have discovered they CAN operate lean. Employees are offsite and fewer local air talents are hosting programs, with that role filled by quality out of market hosts.
Stations can use this same concept for public affairs programming. Syndicated public affairs programming is the most efficient way to meet stations’ FCC requirements to air and log programming responsive to their local problems and issues.
With smaller staffs, doing public affairs locally has a very low “bang for the buck.” It’s extremely time-consuming and not profitable, and the FCC doesn’t give you extra points for being local. Syndicated public affairs saves both money and time. The programming is highly produced and network-quality, with drag-and-drop quarterly reports that satisfy FCC requirements.
Let’s break the advantages down a little more:
- Saves money. Syndicated programming’s self-contained barter structure, most importantly, means that local stations have no cash expense.
- Can be completely automated. FTP delivery means that your station’s automation can automatically download each weekly program so that it’s hands-free.
- Higher profile guests. Syndicated public affairs programming attracts high profile guests-national experts recognized by local audiences.
- Saves time. At the end of each quarter, subscribers/affiliates need only drag-and-drop their report into the FCC website.
The FCC gives stations the freedom to source programming from anywhere, and this includes public affairs. It does not have to be sourced locally.
Some stations have read “local problems and issues” as a mandate to originate public affairs locally. However, FCC rules don’t require that. And in practice, the vast majority of problems and issues listed by stations in FCC reports are actually not local in nature. They’re universal issues, such as “education” and “unemployment.”
Syndicated public affairs shows address these issues completely, and since they often secure the best guests, they can cover them more thoroughly than a local show ever could. Hundreds of stations successfully use only syndicated programming to satisfy compliancy issues, taking care of this requirement in the most efficient and economical way. This allows them to focus their attention and resources on what they do best.