Policy

NBCU Stations Tap ProPublica

12/12/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — NBCUniversal has delivered on
another promise to the government that came with
the deal that brought it into the Comcast fold.

NBC-owned TV stations have selected four nonprofit content partners, including high-profile investigative
site ProPublica, to help produce more (and
more diverse) local news at four owned-and-operated
TV stations and across its 10-station group.

The move also stems from NBC’s “longstanding
commitment to localism,” the station group said in
unveiling the new partnerships.

One of Comcast’s voluntary commitments was that
at least half of the 10 NBC-owned television stations
would enter into cooperative arrangements with locally
focused, nonprofi t news organizations.

Comcast has already delivered on its deal pledge
of more diverse news via a ramp-up of local news at
NBCU’s Spanish-language broadcast network, Telemundo.

The four new content partners are in addition to an
existing partnership in San Diego between KNSD and
website voiceofsandiego.org.

“We’re confident this agreement will extend the
reach and impact of ProPublica’s groundbreaking
news applications and result in great local stories for
NBC viewers around the country,” Richard Tofel, Pro-
Publica’s general manager, said in a statement. “Beyond
that, we’re very grateful for NBCUniversal’s
commitment to supporting innovative non-profit
journalism in the public interest.”

ProPublica, the first news outlet to win a Pulitzer
Prize for work that did not appear in print (in 2011),
and winner of two awards in as many years, will help
boost NBC local-station news resources while providing
a wider platform for the nonprofit.

NBCU made a donation to ProPublica, according to
Tofel, though it was not part of the formal agreement.

Comcast/NBCU donated to each of the sites it
chose as partners, according to a Comcast/NBCU
source speaking on background. Amounts were not
disclosed.

NBC stations will get a broadcast TV-exclusive firstlook
at ProPublica news applications, including the
“Dollars for Docs” database of hundreds of millions of
dollars in payments to doctors from pharmaceutical
companies, Tofel said. Some 120 news organizations
have used that database for local stories.

For the next such investigation, NBC’s owned stations
“will get access for their local television station
ahead of other television stations with which they
compete,” Tofel said.

Tofel said the deal does not include NBC stations
sharing information with ProPublica, though that
might be a two-way street as they start working together
on stories.

In the three other local-market partnerships, the
Chicago Reporter will team up with WMAQ-TV in
Chicago, while WCAU in Philadelphia and KNBC in
Los Angeles will team up with local noncommercial
stations WHYY-TV and public radio station KPCC,
respectively.

September