Same News, New Channels — A Different Sort of NewsCentral

Those Google News alerts are occasionally worth something…. Today my alert set for “Sinclair Broadcast Group” brought me this little gem from the PR Newswire, announcing that my local Central Illinois Sinclair-owned stations will now be producing the 9:00 PM nightly news broadcast for the local FOX affiliates, too, which are not owned by Sinclair. Of course, the 9 PM news won’t vary much from the 10 PM news, except that the FOX affiliates are promised content coming from FOX News.

Actually, this sort of thing happens pretty frequently in local TV markets these days, since it gives the local stations still producing news an opportunity to make more money with very little additional effort. I wonder if the news staff get paid any more for producing another 35 mintues of programming a night.

I also wonder if Mark Hyman’s nightly right-wing smear-a-thon will also air on the FOX stations.

In many cases these sorts of agreements accompany the closing or merging of newsrooms at one station. That’s not happening in this case–the FOX affiliates haven’t had news operations for as long as I’ve lived here (going on 13 years). So while it’s no major blow to local news diversity, it’s no great aid to it either.

The deal does seem to be a byproduct of Sinclair’s new local news strategy, now that the company has largely abandoned its plan to centralize all its local news broadcasts with the Baltimore-based NewsCentral program. The company closed down four news operations as part of the shift, and is trying to create partnerships to generate more cash from the newsrooms it’s keeping open.

One thing that did surprise me in this press release is that the spokesman for the FOX affiliates is GOCOM CEO Ric Gorman, when I thought the stations were owned by Bahakel Communications. The FCC says they’re owned by Springfield Broadcasting Partners, which is just a holding company for Bahakel.

Further research revealed that the stations indeed were sold to GOCOM back in May, pending FCC approval. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the sale, although apparently GOCOM CEO Gorman is African-American, which is something unusual for broadcast media ownership these days.







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