NBC and Fox team up in local news


Beginning in Philadelphia in January and then expanding to other markets, NBC Local Media and the Fox Television Stations are teaming up to share local news gathering resources. But while they’ll have the same video available, each station will make its own decision on how to use it in their newscasts. The service is also being offered to other local news outlets, including other TV stations, print, radio and digital media.

The new venture was jointly announced by Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer, Fox Television Stations Inc., and John Wallace, President, NBC Local Media. The service will gather and distribute general market video coverage to the participating stations, allowing them to efficiently use resources to focus on more specialized franchise reporting. The stations will continue to operate independently in all other respects regarding their individual newsgathering operations.

“We are pleased to be partnering with NBC in this innovative arrangement. By allowing us to save on duplicate expenditures we can be even more competitive with NBC and other stations through signature pieces and investigative reporting,” said Abernethy.

“By pooling resources to provide video coverage of general market events, we can ensure our stations are covering the news of the day, and at the same time, focus our efforts on the type of specialized reporting that defines our brands and differentiates our stations within their communities,” said Wallace.

The NBC and Fox O&Os in each market will provide newsgathering and transmission resources to the joint local news service – including a helicopter, personnel and equipment – while each station also maintains its own separate capabilities. The news service management will independently identify the stories to be covered each day and make arrangements to gather and transmit the video back to each of the stations. The stations will each decide how the material is to be used in their own newscasts, using their own writing and editorial voice. All employees involved in the local news service will remain part of their respective companies.

The partners have been quietly testing the concept since the summer in Philadelphia, where NBC’s WCAU-TV and Fox’s WTXF-TV have coordinated shared video coverage. The new business will officially launch in January for the Philadelphia market. The plan is to then roll it out to the other markets where the two companies both operate O&O stations: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Washington, DC.

RBR/TVBR observation: Do we really need five helicopters shooting video of the same fire? Does the mayor’s news conference look different when shot by a camera positioned two feet away from another? Pool coverage has long been a necessity for following the President and certain other officials in various situations for logistical reasons. It is also often mandated for trial coverage. Doing it to save money by eliminating duplication means that the budget can then cover more news, so we would not be surprised to see broadcasters follow the Fox/NBC lead in other markets.