RADIO WARS: The Historic Battles That Redefined Radio

Media Monitoring in Broadcast Radio and TV

What is the best way to monitor broadcast news on radio and TV? Where does broadcast news monitoring fit into a corporate media monitoring program? When and how should you utilize a broadcast monitoring service?


Online news monitoring services can track and deliver news articles on the websites of TV networks and local TV stations – but not live TV newscasts, at least not with the same online software.Live newscasts in the U.S. are best monitored through closed caption feeds or full video recordings. Live TV newscast monitoring is available from specialist broadcast monitoring companies.In the U.S., the broadcast monitoring specialists are Video Monitoring Service (VMS), TVEyes, and Critical Mention. There also exists a cooperative of local independent broadcast monitors. The cooperative is called the News Data Service (NDS) and it offers the local affiliates access to recorded news broadcasts. Each indepent affiliate of NDS uses standardized software to access the video from all 210 markets.

All the broadcast monitors offer some form of streaming video clips of TV news programs.Some online news monitoring services such as CyberAlert include monitoring of closed-caption text of TV stations as part of their service. They deliver a text file, not streaming video. They can also order video clips of specific news stories. The online services offer the advantage of integrated news monitoring where you receive both online and TV news clips in the same daily clip report with the same clip archive, typically at lower cost than the dedicated broadcast monitors.The major press clipping services, Burrelle’sLuce and Cision, offer TV news monitoring in affiliation with VMS and Critical Mention, respectively.Most broadcast monitoring services offer essentially the same service – but differ somewhat in what markets are covered and in the special features, often referred to as “bells & whisles”.

What Do Broadcast Monitoring Services Monitor?

Typically, the TV news monitoring services monitor all the news programs on the major TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, CNBC) and the local news programs on the affiliated and independent stations. Some also monitor broadcasts of Spanish-language networks such as Univision.S. markets. The broadcast monitoring companies record the closed caption text of the news program – that’s the text of the audio mandated by the federal government that is often displayed on sports programs in bars where it’s not possible to hear audio — and they record the full audio and video tracks of the programs.The broadcast monitors then assemble the closed caption text into a searchable database for each day’s news programming. With software similar to Google’s online search engine, they can search that text database for virtually any key word or phrase including but not limited to corporate, brand or executive names each day, then find and deliver the video clips to their subscribers.

The broadcast monitoring technology has improved markedly in the last few years and is now very good, but it does have some quirks and glitches. The quality of the closed caption searching capabilities differs from monitor to monitor. About 80% of any given newscast will be covered by closed caption text, including all of the commentary that the news anchor is reading from a Teleprompter. Closed caption text is often missing on live remote commentary by field reporters. If a key word is mentioned during a “live remote”, the monitoring service may miss the clip. Because the services monitor only text, they miss any visual references in the story such as logos on uniforms or commercial signs for instance.Unlike online news monitoring where misspellings are rare, closed caption text – usually typed on the fly in real time by humans – contains more than a few misspellings. In broadcast monitoring, it’s therefore important to search for common misspellings of corporate, brand and executive names.Streaming Video Recordings of Newscasts.Most broadcast monitors now offer streaming video and online search engines for their subscriber clients. With streaming video, the recorded audio/video tracks are available to be seen online by subscribers very shortly after the live broadcast. The broadcast monitoring service automatically monitors for key words requested by clients and delivers e-mail or text alerts when it identifies a new clip. Now, most broadcast monitors allow subscribers to enter different key words into their search engines to quickly identify recent stories on different topics.Who Should Subscribe to a Broadcast Monitoring Service?

Most small to mid-size businesses do not require ongoing broadcast monitoring service – which usually range in price between $500 and $700 per month. If your organization appears on local TV news programs infrequently, then it’s not necessary to subscribe to a broadcast monitoring service. In these cases, you’ll likely know about the TV news story in advance or one of your employees or friends will have seen the TV news story. In addition to employees, friends and family, the online news monitoring service you use may also pick up on online reference to the story from the website of the local TV station.

If you’ve learned about a TV news story about your organization, you can contact a broadcast monitoring service and ask if they can get the story for you. You can ask the price at the same time and do some comparison shopping. Usually, the local broadcast monitoring affiliate of the News Data Service is the most likely to have the story since they are closest to the local market, will be the most cooperative in finding the story and copying the clip, and likely charge the lowest price. Services typically charge for a transcript of the closed caption text, a larger fee for a human-transcribed transcript of the story content, and a separate fee for a video clip, usually delivered as a downloadable MP2 or MP3 file or ono a DVD. If you opt for a DVD, there will also likely be a separate shipping fee.

For national organizations with more than a modest number of TV media clips per month, an ongoing subscription to a broadcast monitoring service is likely a good investment to assure the organization is up to date on all the news being broadcast about the organization and its brands in U.S. markets. In times of PR crisis such as a product recall, broadcast monitoring is an essential service to keep up-to-the-minute on all reports and be able to respond in a timely way.For companies with large numbers of TV clips each year, subscription services that charge a fixed monthly rate with no per clip fee offer the best value.Broadcast Monitoring: Radio News & TalkRadio is more difficult to monitor than TV. There are far more stations more widely dispersed. There is no closed caption text.If one of your executives is going to appear on a radio talk show, he can request in advance that the station make a copy or you can contact National Aircheck or VMS in advance to arrange a recording of the interview. National Aircheck also records all the news programming on all news stations in major cities and many of the nationally syndicated talk radio shows, as does Video Monitoring Service (VMS). If you know what you want – say the Sunday 10:00 am news on WCBS all news radio in New York – they can probably deliver it.

CBS News was born out of a battle with the Associated Press over control of newswires.

Monitoring on a continuing basis for corporate or brand mentions, however, is more problematic. The companies use speech to text software to produce transcriptions of the news – but… and there are buts: though it has been improved over the last few years, the software is still less than 80% accurate. In addition, when you look at the broad picture, the radio monitoring services don’t cover many stations since they concentrate on the all news and talk radio stations which are located in major markets.Assessing Broadcast Monitoring ServicesOnce you have decided what you want to cover – and have created a list of broadcast monitoring services that match your needs – you can start contacting and vetting potential vendors.Include in your assessment the national broadcast monitoring companies such as Critical Mention, TVEyes, and Video Monitoring Service. You can contact the national broadcast monitoring services but the service located in your city may be the best place to start. Most have national affiliations and can get clips from anywhere in the country. Unfortunately, the websites of the International Association of Broadcast Monitors and News Data Service do not allow customers to search for the names of the local broadcast monitoring companies by city. At the moment, the best way to find a local independent broadcast monitor is the Google search engine with the search term “broadcast monitoring services” AND “name of city”.For many organizations, then, broadcast monitoring of TV and radio news is a key component of a media monitoring program and use of a broadcast monitoring service is the most effective and least costly approach to comprehensive and accurate broadcast coverage.

To find out more about the media war between the NEWS and radio, check out “RADIO WARS.”

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