Local Broadcasting Generates GDP Of $1.17T

The NAB-commissioned economic impact study also finds 2.52 million jobs attributable to local TV and radio stations every year.

A new analysis by Woods & Poole Economics, with support from BIA/Kelsey, has found $1.17 trillion of the annual U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) originates in the local commercial broadcast radio and television industry, with 2.52 million jobs attributable to the industry every year. The NAB-commissioned study, which breaks down local broadcasters’ economic impact on all 50 states and the District of Columbia, shows TV and radio broadcasting contributes to seven percent of the nation’s GDP.

“As this study indicates, local broadcasting is a remarkable engine for commerce and economic growth, creating high-paying jobs and helping business drive sales through advertising of goods and services,” said NAB President-CEO Gordon Smith. “Decision makers now debating spectrum policies need to be cognizant of the millions of people and thousands of businesses reliant on the unparalleled impact of local TV and radio for economic survival.”

The paper calculated the local broadcast industry employs more than 300,000 people directly and in support industries, creating $59.32 billion in GDP annually. Television accounts for almost 187,000 of these jobs, as well as more than $30 billion in GDP, while radio employs 118,000 people and contributes a little over $18 billion to the GDP.

The study also examined the ripple effects direct employment by local broadcasting has on the economy through the consumption of goods and services by industry employees. Looking at these cascading effects, the analysis concluded local commercial broadcasting generates almost $135 billion in additional GDP and more than 833,000 jobs nationwide.

“TV and radio broadcasting not only provides communities with local news, sports, weather and emergency information, but remains a valuable source of employment that fuels local economies,” said Smith. “With the country struggling to recover from the downturn, broadcast innovation that includes mobile DTV and multicasting should be given an opportunity to succeed and put more Americans back to work.”

The economic analysis also studied the additional economic activity generated by local commercial broadcasting through its service as a forum for advertising goods and services. The study estimates advertising on local broadcast television and radio stations stimulates more than $986 billion in economic activity and supports 1.38 million jobs.


“The primary role of broadcast television and radio is reducing the cost of product information through advertising. In this way, broadcast television and radio stations have their most significant impact on economic growth,” says the report. “Reaching all United States households, local broadcast television and radio stations provide consumers with highly valued marketplace information and businesses with immediate economic and competitive intelligence.”

The study focused only on local commercial broadcast radio and television stations including locally owned-and-operated commercial stations, affiliate stations and independent stations. Noncommercial radio and TV stations and the operations of over-the-air broadcast networks were not part of the analysis, except for networks’ owned-and-operated television stations.

Comments (6)

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Ellen Samrock says:

June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

Instead of the imaginary jobs that have been promised when government confiscates spectrum from broadcasters we have the sobering possibility of losing real jobs within the broadcast industry should that occur.

Betsy Pike says:

June 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The job aspect of local broadcasting might be a good discussion point 15 years ago, but how many experienced personnel with families have been forced out, fired, bought out and terminated through closings. but, the industry has a never ending appetite for hiring 20 somethings with no families and little experience. I think its very disingenuous to talk about jobs when all the industry has done is buy stations and groups it can’t afford, lay off personnel and sell off assets. This last 15 years has been all about engulf and devour speculation….not about long term operation of broadcast properties or public interest convenience and necessity. As a result, more broadcasters air infomercials after newscasts adulterated with weak content, stories have a shelf life of “0”, and the tendency to avoid ANY story that might upset someone or an advertiser. Their former employees and the public have paid the price. So the public has increasingly depended on other sources, not just because those sources are there. It would be great if there would be actual broadcasters….people actually interested in the business…..people who don’t just buy and sell….the speculators have turned the business into a joke that makes money, at least for now. Honestly, considering the crap that broadcasters are putting on the air with little consideration for community leadership in their cities of license….the government might as well take over the spectrum. It’s interesting to look at some of these local stations that have been like track relay batons over the course of a few years, even in good times, to note the merry go round of always changing management and news personnel. And we’re to say what great assets they are in their communities?

    Ellen Samrock says:

    June 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Spoken like a true disciple of Copps. Broadcasters trying to make money? BAD! Broadcasters airing programs that appear to have no socially redeeming value other than that people enjoy watching them? Bad, bad, broadcaster! And so the tired screed goes on and on.

Matthew Castonguay says:

June 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I think the general thrust of the study/analysis/conclusions are correct, but $1.17 TRILLION? 7% of GDP? Ridiculous numbers (didn’t BIA/Kelsey forecast mobile TV to be a $2B business in…well…2011, a couple years back?). The number is so over-hyped that I’m afraid this line of attack for NAB has the potential to backfire – by being laughed out of the room.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    1.17 Trillion is a bit optimistic. But when you consider the overinflated figures the CEA has recklessly put forward, such as what it’s costing the US for TV broadcasters to remain broadcasters (9.4 billion and counting) and how much cash they anticipate the spectrum auction will yield (33 billion), I suppose all is fair in the numbers war.

Hans Schoonover says:

June 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Pro-rate the numbers (employment & GDP) with “at the time USA population” (Base-line) over the last 15 years, how would we look?