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Analyst on Duops: Drop Separate Newscasts

NEW YORK: Rich Greenfield is keeping a close eye on local newscasts in New York to see how the ad market implosion is affecting programming. Watching two sister stations share a sports reporter, the Pali Research analyst wondered why both needed separate newscasts at all.

“When it came time for the sports report on Fox 5 during the 10 p.m. newscast,” Greenfield wrote in an analyst note, “viewers saw a split screen where the Fox 5 anchors introduced My 9 NY’s Russ Salzberg, who then proceeded to give Fox 5 viewers a sports report similar to what he was giving live at a separate time during the 10 p.m. hour to My 9 viewers.”

The Fox and MyNetwork stations in New York, WNYV-TV and WWOR-TV respectively, are both owned and operated by Fox.

“The good news for News Corp. investors is that Fox 5 is not looking to add cost by hiring a replacement for [sportscaster Duke] Castiglione and will instead leverage one prime-time sports reporter across their two stations in NYC,” Greenfield wrote. “The bad news is it raises the larger question, why in the world are there two separate newscasts on News Corp. owned stations in the New York metro area? Why not simply simulcast Fox 5 news on My 9 or vice-versa?

“While the Fox TV stations are actively trying to reduce cost thru local news sharing with NBC and the aforementioned reporter sharing we discovered, why not fully consolidate duopolies’ news programming, given the secular problems facing the TV station biz?

“We would like to see all TV station execs--not just FOX--with duopolies far more aggressively reduce costs. Too many news vans, too many helicopters, too many reporters, etc… While a ‘bounce’ whenever the economy improves is inevitable, this is the time when station executives should be rethinking historic business models.