Waking up to your favorite radio station. Catching your local meteorologists' weather report. Unwinding with your favorite network sitcom.
America's broadcasters deliver all these things and more – they are the local radio and television stations that bring you the news and entertainment that keep you connected to your
community. They are the familiar faces and voices on your favorite stations that share what's happening in your part of town, that keep you informed of emergencies, that report the
scores of the local high school games and that encourage you to participate in the community blood drive.
Broadcasters are a vital part of each town and community in America, and their reach is extraordinary. There are more than 242 million radio listeners and 302 million television viewers who rely on their local stations for the news, emergency information and entertainment they value.
And stations are never more highly valued than in times of crisis. As the most trusted source of news and emergency information, Americans' first choice is to turn to their local television and radio stations to get information about an impending storm or other crisis and learn how to stay safe.
Because of the strength of the broadcast infrastructure and the power of the airwaves, local radio and TV stations are often the only available communications medium during disasters, when cell phone and wireless networks can be unreliable. Even Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials have noted that in times of emergency, there is no more reliable source of information than local broadcasters.
Local stations are part of the communities they serve, and broadcasters do not hesitate to put themselves in harm's way to bring critical information to their neighbors. Whether it's preparing listeners and viewers for the coming storm, helping them access needed supplies and shelter during the disaster or helping towns and cities rebuild in the aftermath, local broadcasters take seriously their commitment to protecting the public.
How is Broadcasting Different from Cable, Satellite or Web Services?
Broadcast service is free – all you need is a radio or a TV with an antenna. There is no monthly fee to access local TV and radio stations. Local stations use the broadcast airwaves to transmit a signal that is received by an antenna on, or in, your device.
Because of broadcasters' ubiquitous availability and free service, a large number of underserved populations rely solely on broadcasting. For example, 54 million Americans rely on free broadcast TV and do not subscribe to cable or satellite. Forty-four percent of those are minorities, and many are seniors and rural and lower-income Americans.
Stations take seriously their responsibility to serve their local communities and are licensed by the federal government to use the airwaves in the public interest.
A Closer Look at Broadcast Television
54 million Americans rely exclusively on broadcast television (not cable or satellite service).
From local weather reports to the highest-rated network shows, your local TV stations are bringing you the news and entertainment you value most, and all for free. While some choose to subscribe to cable or satellite services, all you need is an antenna to get dozens of crystal clear channels with no monthly subscription fee.
Many local TV stations sign on with a broadcast network (such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ION or Univision, among others), providing you with top-rated primetime shows and national news in addition to local content. Each week, more than 90 percent of the most-watched shows are on local broadcast channels – the channels you can get for free with an antenna.
When TV stations transitioned from analog to digital transmissions in 2009, it revolutionized free, local TV viewing and provided viewers more choices than ever before.
Digital TV allows stations to transmit more free channels; these are known as "sub-channels" or "multicast channels" and are indicated as such on your TV. For example, if the TV channel promotes itself as channel 7, then its main program channel is 7.1, and its multicast channels might be 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4 and each can carry different programing. This allows local TV stations to offer specialty programming such as foreign language programming, all-weather, all-sports, favorite classic shows and more.
Broadcasters are also rolling out new free services such as local TV on tablets and smartphones, providing live, local news, emergency information and entertainment to consumers on the go. No monthly fee and no Internet access required.
By investing in technology, broadcasters are continually seeking new ways to better serve their audiences. Consumers can expect more free services that your antenna will deliver to your home or device in the near future.
A Closer Look at Broadcast Radio
More than 242 million people listen to radio each week – and that number continues to rise.
Local radio stations are broadcasting in AM, FM and HD, offering a wide variety of content to listeners. Whether you prefer talk, sports, hip hop or country on your morning drive, local radio has something for every taste and it's free – no monthly subscription service necessary.
Radio stations use a transmitter to send signals that are received by the antenna in your home or car radio, or even smartphone headset. Stations broadcast many different radio formats, including news and talk, rock, country, oldies, religious and sports. Since 2000, the number of Spanish-language radio stations has increased by more than 60 percent. Local stations can also broadcast syndicated programming such as "The Dave Ramsey Show" and "American Top 40."
Radio stations continue to innovate to offer more free choice for listeners. HD Radio offers listeners crystal clear sound and additional channels of music, talk and foreign-language programming. Just like traditional radio, HD Radio is free. There are no subscription costs for those additional channels; you just need an HD Radio to find them. More than 2,150 stations are broadcasting in HD.
Local radio stations are also providing service on as many different platforms as possible. Many local stations are streaming online so even when you're thousands of miles away from home, you're only an Internet connection away from your favorite hometown station. In addition to streaming, radio broadcasters are encouraging mobile phone manufacturers to include built-in radio in smartphones, giving listeners a way to listen to local stations without utilizing an
Internet connection, experiencing buffering or using their expensive data plan. Built-in radio relies on a tiny chip inside your phone and a small antenna inside your headset that picks
up local radio stations. As millions have experienced during emergency situations, you can't always depend on your phone or wireless service during times of crisis. But if you have a smartphone with built-in radio, even when cellular networks go down, local radio stays on to provide a vital lifeline. Whether you listen in your car, at work or at the gym, you know that you can always rely on local radio to get the news, information and music you want – all for free.
America's Radio and TV Stations: The Pulse of Our Communities
Local TV's nationwide economic impact is $716 billion. Local radio's nationwide economic impact is $454 billion.
TV and radio stations reach more people and touch more lives than all other mediums combined. As the pulse of communities across America, local radio and television stations take seriously their integral role in connecting, informing and entertaining the public. Broadcasters are also investing in technology that will help them better serve listeners and viewers, and are focused on providing content to consumers when and where they want it.
Learn more at WeAreBroadcasters.com