In a move that refocuses programming and news on the needs of the local community, Tribune Company and Local TV Holdings, LLC today announced that they have reached an agreement in principle to enter into a local marketing agreement for their television stations in Denver and a shared services agreement for their television stations in St. Louis. These agreements will enable the stations to stagger news, programming and community affairs programs so that viewers have more options to fit their increasingly hectic lifestyles.
In Denver, the agreements will involve KDVR (Local TV/FOX) and KWGN (Tribune/CW). In St. Louis, KPLR (Tribune/CW) and KTVI (Local TV/FOX) will enter a shared services arrangement.
The agreements will allow the stations to locate in the same facility, use combined news operations and share certain programming. In St. Louis the stations will co-locate in the offices of KPLR and use one news room to produce nine hours of news every day, with no overlap.
“People today need local news programs throughout the day, not just in the morning, the early evening and at 9 or 10 pm.,” said Spencer Koch, Market Manager for St. Louis and long time general manager of KTVI. “The June and Ward Cleaver world of working 9 to 5, with dinner at 5:30 while tuning in the local news is long gone. By joining with KPLR, we can combine the best of both stations in news gathering and production. If the people of St. Louis want to watch news, they will find it on Channel 2 (KTVI) or Channel 11 (KPLR). We are working to our audience’s schedule, not ours.”
KPLR recently launched an hour-long local newscast at 7 p.m. News at 7 is one of the only prime time newscasts in the country, and the only one in St. Louis. In Denver, both stations will operate out of the KDVR studios.
“Both KDVR (FOX Channel 31) and KWGN (CW Channel 2) have a strong local presence in the morning,” said Dennis Leonard, Denver Market Manager. “We will continue to go head to head on our morning newscasts and focus on delivering more options for news viewing in the noon, 5:30 and late news slots. Both of the stations have strong, loyal viewers. We will take the best of both newscasts and repackage it for each station.”
Ed Wilson, President of Tribune Broadcast, added, “These arrangements enable us to create efficiencies between the FOX and CW affiliates in each market to serve the local community like never before. In each case, we can leverage the strengths of two great stations to serve viewers with more news and the most popular entertainment programming. On top of that, we can provide advertisers the ease and efficiency of one-stop shopping, delivering even greater reach.”
Local TV CEO Bobby Lawrence commented, “The television industry is on the cusp of change. The internet, mobile, TiVo and alternative distribution channels are growing forms of content distribution. As our audience finds new ways to get content we need to streamline our delivery costs and provide more local programming, news and community information. With Tribune as our partner, we can streamline the back office and news gathering costs, while still giving viewers access to two great and very different stations and content. It is the way of the future, and we are excited to be a part of TV’s evolution.”
Working together, the stations will command the largest television news gathering operations in both Denver and St. Louis. Viewers and advertisers will also benefit from an unprecedented primetime programming line-up, including such shows as “American Idol,” “The Simpsons,” “America’s Next Top Model,” and the recently launched “90210.” It is anticipated that the agreements will be effective October 1.
“We offer something for everyone while we cross-promote programming and news on each station,” adds Wilson. “In addition we’ll reduce our overall operating costs and use the savings to enhance the technology at each of these stations, build out our HD capabilities, and claim the #1 position as the most locally-focused broadcasters in each market.”
Local TV LLC is a broadcast holding company created in 2007 to acquire nine heritage television stations in eight mid sized markets. In 2008, the company acquired eight Fox affiliates previously owned by News Corp. Local TV is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, management, and a consortium of bankers and high yield lenders who are as enthusiastic about our future as we are.
Tribune is America’s largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. In publishing, Tribune’s leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun Sentinel (South Florida), Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call and Daily Press. The company’s broadcasting group operates 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable, Chicago’s WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune’s print and broadcast properties and extend the company’s nationwide audience. At Tribune we take what we do seriously and with a great deal of pride. We also value the creative spirit and are nurturing a corporate culture that doesn’t take itself too seriously.