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Five More Stations Push Newscasts to 4:30 a.m.

MULTIPLE CITIES: At least five stations decided this month to launch newscasts before dawn. WTOL-TV and WTVG-TV in Toledo, Ohio; WABC-TV in New York; WFLA-TV in Tampa, Fla.; and WGN-TV of Chicago are rolling news start times back to 4:30 a.m., according to several reports.

WABC, the ABC O&O in the No. 1 market, said this week it would add 30 minutes its “Eyewitness News” franchise, starting it at 4:30 a.m. rather than 5 a.m. CW affiliate WPIX-TV started doing 4:30 a.m. news in 2008, according to The New York Times. WNBC-TV, the NBC O&O, and WNYW, the Fox O&O, soon followed. WPIX recently announced moving its newscast to 4 a.m.

WGN, the Tribune-owned CW in Chicago, went to 4:30 this month, according to Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune. WFLD-TV, the Fox O&O there did so along with WLS-TV, the ABC O&O. Rosenthal said Chitown’s NBC O&O WMAQ-TV has had local news at 4:30 a.m. since January 2008.

WLS is also adding an hour of morning news on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Sept. 4. WGN is launching a one-hour, 6 a.m. weekend newscast Oct. 2.

WFLA, an NBC owned by Media General, is extending its weekday morning newscast by a half-hour to 4:30 a.m. starting Sept. 20, Tampa Bay Onlinesaid.

“This is a reflection of changing lifestyles as people are going to bed earlier and getting up earlier,” WFLA’s Don North told TBO. “A few years ago no one would have thought there was an audience at 5:30 a.m. but now there is.”

Toledo’s WTOL, a Raycom-owned CBS affiliate, and WTVG, an ABC O&O, will both expand local weekday news by a half-hour. WTOL went to 4:30 a.m. yesterday; WTVG will do so Aug. 30, according to the Toledo Blade.
-- Deborah D. McAdams