Why do television news focus on local news?

Why do television news focus on local news?

Presented by the president of France Télévisions, Delphine Ernotte, as “a new phase of regionalization” of France 3, the “Tempo” project has been a reality since September 4. This reform – which consisted of the suppression of national newspapers 12/13 And 19/20 , broadcast since 1986, and the overhaul of newspapers produced by the channel’s twenty-four local branches – experienced a delay in starting due to a strike. The unions denounce “low-cost decentralization”, and criticize the lack of resources made available to teams for this change. But this outcry can hardly reverse the trend of audiovisual players to get closer to their audiences. “An already old movement,” notes Benoît Lafon, media sociologist who recalls that the first regionalization dates back to the time of the ORTF, with the opening of Télé Lille (ancestor of FR3 Nord-Pas-de-Calais) on April 10, 1950!

Since then, multiple experiments aimed at proximity to TV viewers have been launched from Paris. One of the figures of this trend, Jean-Pierre Pernaut, made a point of honor, between 1988 and 2021, to promote territorial France in the 1 p.m. news on TF1. On France 3, a channel with a local vocation (three-quarters of its employees work in the thirteen regional directorates and the twenty-four local editorial offices), the highlighting of decentralized information was ensured from 1986, through programs targeted by through regional dropouts. Same approach for M6 which, from 1986, often in partnership with regional daily press titles, launched local editions of its newspaper Six minutes in the twelve main cities of France. The experiment ended in 2009.

Too much information

Concomitantly with this movement, local channels emerged. “Associative or commercial in scope, they issued in isolation and rarely proved profitable,” observes Benoît Lafon. But in recent years, the Internet and social networks have reshaped the public’s desires. “Facing infobesity (too much information due to the digital age, Editor’s note) , people have become fond of local news,” indicates Émilie Tardif, deputy director of the local private channel TV-Tours-Val-de-Loire. An analysis corroborated by Médiamétrie*: nearly one in two French people say they receive at least one local channel in their home, and at least 10.3 million people watched at least one local television channel between September 2022 and June 2023. According to these figures, for the same period, the audience of Télénantes increased by 6.2%.

“People wait to be told what is happening near them, because it can have an impact on their daily lives,” observes Philippe Antoine, general director of the BFM Régions network. (read opposite) . These continuous local news channels from the Altice Média group benefit from a constantly growing audience. For certain reports, teams on the ground use the Mojo technique (mobile journalism, which allows you to cover an event with a simple cell phone). “This gives us enormous flexibility,” adds Philippe Antoine, and allows greater responsiveness. For its part, France Télévisions first joined forces with the rich network of local France Bleu antennas to initiate this regionalization, by developing joint morning shows. But management promises that bringing together teams will not be synonymous with a reduction in resources. Will viewers like these changes? “We will see because they are the only arbiters of Audimat”, concludes Émilie Tardif…

* “Local TV – September 2022-June 2023” study.

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