PUBLICATION/BROADCAST CAPACITY IN LOCAL MEDIA

The Geographic Scope of Local Publications/Broadcasts

The geographic scope of publication/broadcast in local media is generally evaluated through two basic classifications, local and regional. The term of local scale publication/broadcast refers that local media outlets mostly produce media content about one specific city. On the other hand, regional scale publication/broadcast refers to the publication/broadcast scope and content of local outlets are created to appeal to more than one city or a specific region. While this classification in print media (such as local newspapers and magazines) is based on the city or cities where the publications are printed and distributed ; in audiovisual broadcasting by televisions, radios and digital news platforms whose broadcasting coverage is actually national, this classification is usually carried out by evaluating the cities or regions covered in the produced media content. In addition to these, the presence of offices/branches of local media outlets in more than one city and the production of publications/broadcast focused on the city/region where they have office are another criterion taken into consideration in the classification of local/regional. In this direction, the publication/broadcast scope of the local media outlets participating in the research was measured by directing questions aiming to determine if they have offices or branches in different cities, the printing and distribution areas of their publications, and the cities and regions covered in their publication/broadcast content.

The data we obtained in the research show that the local newspapers and magazines that create the printed local publications generally publish content about city in which they are located, and very few outlets offer coverage and media content on a regional scale. While the vast majority (639 outlets) of the 653 local newspapers surveyed define their scope as local, only 17 local newspapers state that they publish regionally. According to the results of the research, while the newspapers publishing on a regional scale are mostly found in Aegean (4 outlets), Mediterranean (3 outlets) and Southeastern Anatolia (3 outlets) regions, the region where no local newspapers published regionally stands out as Central Anatolia. In local magazines, only 5 of the 36 outlets participating in the survey publish on a regional scale. The majority of these magazines publishing on a regional scale, are located in the Southeastern Anatolia region (3 outlets).

In terms of audiovisual local broadcasts, it is seen that almost all of the 38 local television and 93 local radio outlets participating in the research broadcast locally. According to the results, there are only 2 local televisions and 4 local radio stations broadcast on a regional scale.

The results reflect that the single-city focused publication/broadcast trend in local media is also prevalent among digital news platforms. among the surveyed 486 digital news platforms, only 18 outlets stated that they create publication/broadcast content in a regional scope and the majority of these outlets operate in the Aegean Region (8 outlets).

The Activity Level in Local Publication/Broadcast

The increasing economic pressures on the media sector in the recent period also have negative impacts on the publication/broadcast capacities of local media organizations (IPI, 2019). Due to the increasingly worsening economic conditions, many local media outlets decide to reduce their publication/broadcast capacity or withdraw from publishing due to budgetary insufficiency or financial problems (IPI, 2019). Similarly, the data obtained during the research shows that most outlets in the local media cannot continue to publish actively due to financial obstacles.

Among all local publications, local newspapers stand out as the publication type with the highest number of outlets that cannot actively publish. According to the data, 8% of the 653 local newspapers surveyed (52 outlets in total) are not actively publishing, and the majority of these newspapers are located in the Marmara (18 outlets in total) and Mediterranean (12 outlets in total) regions.

Among the local outlets that cannot maintain active publishing, local digital news platforms come second after newspapers. While 2.1% of the 486 local digital news platforms in the sample (10 outlets in total) stated that they stopped publishing actively, it is seen that most of these outlets are located in Marmara (4 outlets in total) and Mediterranean (3 outlets in total) regions.

In other types of local publications, there are fewer outlets that cannot continue to active publishing compared to local newspapers and digital news platforms. 3.2% of 93 local radio outlets (3 outlets in total) and 10.5% of 38 local television outlets (4 outlets in total) cannot publish actively. In local magazines, only 3 outlets out of 36 participating in the survey do not continue to publish actively.

Impacts of the Pandemic on Local Publications

Other data obtained during the research reveal that this contraction in local publications/broadcasts due to financial problems has increased, especially with the effect of the pandemic. Local newspapers and digital news platforms stand out as the publication/broadcast types most heavily affected by the pandemic in terms of publication/broadcast capacity.

4.1% of the local newspapers participating in the research (27 outlets in total) state that they have gone downsizing in terms of both the number of employee and publication capacity due to the problems caused by the pandemic. The majority of local newspapers, which went downsizing during the pandemic, are located in the Marmara (11 outlets) and Mediterranean (7 outlets) regions.

Similarly, among the local digital news platforms in the sample, 4.5% (22 outlets in total) state that they have reduced the number of employees and the frequency of publications due to the pandemic. The data show that digital news platforms publishing locally in Marmara (8 outlets in total) and Aegean (7 outlets in total) regions were more heavily affected by the pandemic.

Among other publication/broadcast types, especially local televisions seem to be less affected by the pandemic. Among the 38 local television outlets surveyed, there is no outlet that has gone downsizing due to the pandemic. Among local radios, the number of outlets go downsizing due to the pandemic is quite low (4.3%, a total of 4 outlets), while among local magazines there are only a few outlets (5.6%, a total of 2 outlets) that were adversely affected by the pandemic.

Publication/Broadcast Frequency in Local Media

The results of the research reflect that the publication/broadcast frequency in local media outlets varies dependin on the media medium. According to the findings, especially local outlets (local newspapers and magazines) under print media produce publications in different time periods such as daily, weekly, biweekly and monthly.

According to the data, the majority (42.1%) of the local newspapers participating in the research publish daily or weekly or (36.9%). The number of local newspapers published every fortnight (6.3%) or monthly (13.2%) is rare. In local magazines, most of the outlets publish a new issue once a month (58.3%) or every few months (30.6%).

It is seen that local publication/broadcasting types other than the print media generally broadcast on a daily basis. While almost all of the local digital news platforms (95.5%) participating in the research stated that they publish new content every day, the results show that all local radio and television stations in the sample publish daily.

The Sales Figures of Local Publications

The main income sources of local newspapers and magazines operating within the scope of print media are generally sales revenues. The data obtained from 653 local newspapers and 36 magazines surveyed during the research show that the sales rates of the outlets offering printed publications generally vary between 250 and 1000 copies.

25.6% of the local newspapers participating in the research state that each issue that is published is sold on average between 251 and 500 copies, while 26.3% state that their sales figures vary between 501 and 1000 copies. While 16.1% of local newspapers have a sales figure of more than 1000 copies per issue, only 5.2% of these outlets can reach a sales figure of more than 3000 copies. On the other hand, 8.4% of the local newspapers participating in the survey state that they distribute their printed issues free of charge. Looking at the regional distribution of sales figures, it is seen that the local newspapers with the highest sales figures are generally located in the Marmara and Aegean regions. The largest number of outlets making free distribution is located in the Black Sea region.

Data obtained from local magazines show that sales figures typically reach between 1001 and 3000 copies (30.6% of all local magazines). Local magazines with a sales figure of more than 3000 units constitute 16.7% of all local magazines, while the sales figures of the remaining outlets (13.9%) are mostly limited between 501 and 100 copies. Similar to local newspapers, there are some outlets (11.1% of all local magazines) stating that they distribute free of charge. Among the regions with the highest number of local magazines participating in the research (Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean regions), Marmara is the region with the highest sales figures, while the Aegean region has the highest number of local magazines with free distribution.

The Content in Local Publication/Broadcast

In the survey conducted during the research, local media outlets were asked questions about which content themes they generally publish/broadcast. The data obtained in this context reveal that the produced content in the local media is shaped in line with the outlets’ publication/broadcast channels and types. While it is seen that more content is produced under general themes such as national agenda, politics and culture & art among all local media outlets, the level of content produced in specific fields such as economy & finance, health, sports and tourism differs according to the media medium in which local outlets publish/broadcast.

While the majority of the contents of the local newspapers were created under the themes of national agenda (71.4%) and politics (73.5%), economy & finance (15.6%) and culture and arts (13.2%) were among the other prominent themes in the publications of local newspapers. It is seen that the number of local newspapers producing content on specific themes such as health (11.5%), sports (10.3%), tourism (9.3%), agriculture & livestock (5.1%) is less.

Another striking finding among the data is that the content of the publications that local newspapers focus on varies according to the regions they are located in. For example, the results reveal that the local newspapers in the Eastern Anatolia region give more coverage to the contents under the headings of economy & finance, culture and arts, tourism and sports compared to the newspapers in other regions. Similarly, while the local newspapers in the Black Sea region focus on health-related content, the majority of the local newspapers in the Southeastern region shape their publications under the issues of national agenda.

Local magazines, on the other hand, usually create their publications under the themes of the national agenda (38.9%), current occurences (36.1%) and magazine & celebrity life (27.8%). Compared to the content themes in local newspapers, the number of local magazines producing content on the themes of politics (16.7%) and economy & finance (2.8%) is limited, while there are many local magazines focusing on specific areas in their publications such as culture & arts (25%), health (19%) and tourism (19,4%).

According to the data, the publication content of digital news platforms publishing on a local scale is mostly shaped by topics related to the national agenda (85.4%); politics (59.5%), culture & art (24.5%) and health (22.4%) stand out as other content themes frequently featured in local digital platforms. On the other hand, compared to printed local publications, it is seen that local digital publications publish more content specific to certain fields such as sports (17.9%), tourism (17.9%) and agriculture & livestock (10.9%).

Similar to local newspapers, there are regional differences in the selection of publication content by digital news platforms. While it is seen that the digital news platforms publishing locally in the Southeast region focus on the content under the title of politics, it is observed that the themes of health, culture & art and agriculture & livestock are more preferred among the outlets in Eastern Anatolia.

Among the local audio-visual broadcasters, local televisions stand out with the most comprehensive broadcast content. While the national agenda (89.5%) and politics (50%) constitute the main broadcast content themes on local televisions, the data shows that many local televisions broadcast content under culture & arts (31.6%), health (26.3%), current occurences (23.7%) and sports (13.2%) themes. However, compared to local televisions, it is seen that local radios broadcast on more restricted content themes. According to the results, the broadcasts of local radios mostly cover the contents under the themes of national agenda (74.2%), culture & arts (40.9%), health (20.4%) and politics (19.4%).