Using URLs like "NBCWashington.com" and the tagline "Locals Only," these are quantum leaps over the usual crappy local TV news sites for a very simple reason: They're actually focused on local news, and eschew the usual mindless over-promotion of the local NBC news team and primetime schedule. They're also not limited to NBC-produced content–the sites promise to aggregate content from other local sources, as well, a la the very smart Examiner.com model.
As such, these sites are potentially serious competitors to local newspaper sites. The power of local TV stations to promote their own sites can't be underestimated–I found out about NBCWashington.com because the local NBC station is running teaser ads for it–and the focus on local news and information makes these sites potentially very attractive to local readers and advertisers.
In their initial incarnation, the NBC local sites are a bit too heavy on national news and celebrity froth for a "local" site. And they could use more user-generated content. But they're still very well done, with a clean design that even nicks a nice animated graphic feature from iTunes' "cover-flow" trick–you can use your cursor to "thumb through" a list of stories. Weather, traffic and events calendars are prominent, as is a poll, e-mail and mobile alerts, RSS and local photo galleries. The happy faces of the local news team and promotions for the primetime schedule are nowhere to be seen.
This is a serious effort–and yet another reason why newspaper sites can't stay stuck in the mud with aging designs and newspaper-centric approaches to content. You've got to be ready to aggregate local information from anywhere you can get it, and present it in a manner that's snappy and relevant to site visitors. Otherwise, you're going to lose your audience to efforts like NBC's "locals only" endeavor.