Large media companies are growing more eager to buy television stations. A chain of stations that shares production facilities, marketing strategies, content, and even sales staff will save money and be able to offer advertisers more eyeballs. The FCC is expected to lift the ban on the rule capping any company reaching more than 35 percent of the nation's viewing audience, a ceiling already breached by CBS/Viacom and Fox.

A review of annual reports shows that most media companies publicly extol the importance of good journalism. We decided to average the quality scores of those ownership groups in which we've studied four or more stations in hopes of learning about different companies' commitment to quality.

Station Group Average Grade Stations
EMMIS 363.30 B 7
RAYCOM 356.47 B 4
GANNETT 351.86 C 12
CBS 338.24 C 12
NBC 337.08 C 7
BELO 335.88 C 8
HEARST 330.23 C 9
ABC 323.96 C 5
SCRIPPS 301.81 D 4
COX 262.86 D 4