Friday, April 5, 2013

Blurring the lines of local newscasts

In my home district in upstate New York, we have six broadcast channels, each attached to a network affiliate. Not all of them have locally produced nightly newscasts, but that may soon be changing in more ways than one.

The trend started a number of years ago when CBS affiliate WRGB of Schenectady had a joint sales agreement with WNYA, the MyNetworkTV affiliate. Currently, WRGB is now under the same corporate roof as CW affiliate WCWN, both having been purchased by Sinclair Broadcasting at the end of 2011. Anyway, for the duration of their link with WNYA, WRGB would repurpose their morning newscast on the latter channel. Today, WCWN airs a 10:00 pm (ET) newscast, utilizing WRGB personnel, which has been heavily promoted since its inception. The CW15 News at Ten has grown in the last couple of years from a 10 minute broadcast to a more traditional half-hour, and gives the station a bridge from CW programming to syndicated fare.

Recently, the area's Fox & ABC affiliates have entered into an agreement which enables news personnel from both stations to work together under the News Center umbrella. Long-time WTEN meteorologist Steve Capporizzo, also the host of the station's nightly Pet Connection feature, is now pulling double duty, delivering forecasts for WXXA as well. That moves Steve Teeling, who had been the meteorologist for WXXA, to the anchor desk, where he shares duties with Christine Arangio for WTEN's noon news. So far, it's been a good fit. Veteran news anchor John Gray is on the shuttle as well, co-anchoring WTEN's 6 pm news as well as WXXA's 10 pm broadcast. Gray, also a columnist for the Troy Record, surprisingly hasn't made much mention of his increased duties in his Wednesday columns. Hmmmmmm.

On the heels of the WXXA-WTEN union came rumors, reported by the Albany Times-Union a few weeks back that WNYA would soon be on the way to a sales agreement with NBC affiliate WNYT, which could conceivably lead to WNYA finally getting its own evening news. With MyNetworkTV likely to be a distant memory down the road, as their schedule consists entirely of reruns outsourced from other networks (i.e. USA's Burn Notice), the station is searching for its own identity, and potentially could get there with WNYT's help. We'll just have to wait & see.

None of this is unprecedented. In New York City, WWOR & WNYW are under the same corporate roof, with the New Jersey based channel 9 having been bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation a while back. Granted, this would've been unheard of at least 15 years ago, but in an age where digital media is taking over, bit by bit, traditional news outlets are finding that it may be necessary in the long term to pool resources together for each channel's future health. I cannot speak for anything outside New York, as I know nothing of any similar mergers in other parts of the country, but this could be a growing trend.

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