NBC O&Os beefing up local news


NBCUniversal plans to enhance local news at its 10 owned television stations, hiring more than 130 people to cover more local news — including reporters, producers and photographers. The goal is to produce more than 1,200 additional hours of local news a year on the stations’ primary broadcast channels.

The company is making a “major investment” to ensure that its stations have “the resources necessary to effectively compete in their markets,” it said in a statement. Valari Staab, president of NBC Owned Television Stations, said Comcast, which became a majority owner of NBCU in January, is committed to improving local news coverage.

“The new leaders of the company very much believe in the owned television stations division and they want to see these stations strong again,” Staab said. “So we’re moving as fast as we can to strengthen all of their news gathering and reporting capabilities. Our stations have a responsibility to deliver critical local news and information to viewers in their respective communities each and every day. By making these strategic investments in our stations, we will ensure we meet our viewers’ high expectations.”

The enhancements are planned in New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Miami, San Diego and Connecticut. NBCU also plans new consumer and/or investigative units in D.C., the Bay Area, Connecticut, New York and Chicago.

The investments, much of which will take place over the next several months, include:

o An hour-long 5 PM newscast on WNBC/4 New York
o A 30-minute noon newscast on KNBC/4 Los Angeles
o A 30-minute noon newscast on WMAQ/5 Chicago
o Two 30-minute newscasts at 4:30 AM and 11:00 AM on WCAU/10 Philadelphia
o A 30-minute newscast at 11 AM on KNTV/11 Bay Area
o A 30-minute newscast at 11 AM on KXAS/5 Dallas-Fort Worth
o Two hours of news on Saturday and Sunday mornings on WTVJ/6 Miami
o A 30-minute noon newscast on KNSD/7 San Diego

The company increased local news programming at its owned stations by more than 2,200 hours since the Comcast/NBCUniversal transaction was approved.

• Establishing investigative and/or consumer units in five markets, including WRC/4 Washington, D.C.;
• Adding 15 new vehicles to the current fleet as well as upgrading 14 more vehicles with live news capabilities;
• Purchasing 20 new cameras and other new equipment;
• Building new sets and/or studios at four stations, including WNBC/4 New York;
• Adding or increasing the hours of helicopter coverage in several markets; and
• Restoring the promotions departments at all 10 stations.