New Vision’s WKBN-TV (Ch. 27, CBS) Youngstown, OH this week began providing local newscasts for Parkin Broadcasting’s WYTV-TV (Ch. 33, ABC) under a contractual arrangement. Some WYTV anchors and reporters were hired by WKBN, but the Youngstown Vindicator reported that only about 10 of the 50 employees pink-slipped at WYTV got job offers. New Vision also owns the Fox affiliate in Youngstown, which is an LPTV. The only other local news operation is at WFMJ-TV (Ch. 21, NBC), which is in a grandfathered crossownership combination with the Vindicator daily newspaper.
TVBR observation: The story on the AP wires made it sound like this is an unusual situation. And to hear the debate over the FCC’s ownership rules in Washington, most politicians are similarly misinformed. Having a viable third TV news operation is becoming increasingly rare in smaller TV markets. The economics just don’t work, no matter whether the owner is a local entity or a big group. That could be solved in many markets by allowing duopolies and crossownership (which Youngstown already has, you’ll notice). But that would require the folks in Washington to put politics aside and look instead at the merits and the public interest benefits. Nah, not gonna happen.