Monday, January 15, 2007

A New Montgomery TV Newscast?

It's a trend happening all over the country-- one television station does a newscast for another.

This time the trend takes us to Alabama's state capital-- Montgomery where there are currently two local television news operations, NBC affiliate WSFA and CBS affiliate WAKA-TV.

It's worth mentioning that Montgomery-based Raycom Media purchased Liberty Corporation, which owned WSFA.

But it's WAKA-TV that's in the news now as it offers the state's newest local newscast-- a 9pm newscast for a new CW network-affiliated station, WBMM, which is owned by SagamoreHill Broadcasting.

"We are excited to be working with Jim Caruthers and his team at CBS 8," SagamoreHill Broadcasting President Louis Wall said in a story posted on WAKA's site. "They are true professionals and we appreciate their vision in working with us to provide the River Region's first prime time news," he said.

Like similar agreements in other markets, the newscast is branded with the station that is providing newscast's brand. The station's talent produces an extra half-hour or hourlong program.

While some markets will take the late newscast and offer it an hour earlier on the second station, many re-run stories from earlier news programs. In markets like Richmond, Va, which has been doing a primetime newscast for Sinclair Broadcast Group's FOX station, WRLH, an entire anchor team was identified to staff the 10pm program.

In Montgomery, CBS 8 is owned by Charlotte-based Bahakel Communications, which did its own centralcasting between Charlotte FOX affiliate WCCB and Columbia, South Carolina ABC station, WOLO-TV.

I call these types of newscasts where one station does one for competing station, CONTRACTED newscasts. They're also known as news share agreements.

Do they provide MORE local news? Technically, on the station where the contracted newscasts airs, YES. But, there is no real NEW reporting staff that is informing the community.

So, on this web blog that focuses on community journalism, we have to ask whether this latest news share agreement really adds to the community journalism available in the Montgomery-Selma market.

For a while this same concept was tried in the Birmingham media market as WIAT CBS 42 did a 9pm newscast for WTTO WB 21. That was, of course, after Sinclair Broadcast Group stopped using its own centralcasting concept to produce local news.

But, it only lasted a few months. Recently, I got the following e-mail from CBS 42 anchor David Lamb:

We are no longer doing the news on CW21. We discontinued those broadcasts a while back. As always, you can check us out on CBS 42 and 10pm. Sorry for the inconvenience but I hope you will watch us at 10.

While two years, WTTO 21 promoted its anchor team that was a mix of local talent and national news personalities from the Sinclair NewsCentral operation, today the WTTO Website has been totally re-done as a primarily promotional site for the entertainment programming with the new green CW 21 brand and a tiny section devoted to CW 21 News Video, which is really the Associated Press Video service that available free to members.

So, we will watch to see what happens with Alabama's newest local newscast on WBMM CW Montgomery. Currently only Birmingham's WBRC and Mobile's WALA, both FOX affiliates offer primetime newscasts, which is 9pm in the Central Time Zone.


Post a Comment

<< Home