It was a mixed bag for Fox affiliate WTVT in Tampa (DMA 13) this week. In a trio of moves that management said were, for the most part, unrelated, the outlet began phasing its local newscasts to 720p transmissions—while acknowledging that the economy had prompted the layoff of at least six staffers. (Four workers come from the news department.)
Apart from the HD leap, according to tampabay.com, "Skeptics predicted that job reductions might follow the start of a new Local News Service (LNS) allowing WTVT to team with rivals WFTS-Ch. 28 and WTSP-Ch. 10 to gather footage of routine news events."
But Bill Schneider, WTVT's general manager, said the job reductions and the LNS deal were not connected, and that his station's newsroom continues to operate independently of the other stations' news operations. (He said last Saturday, June 27, WTVT got the last TV interview with infomercial king Billy Mays shortly before his death.)
WTVT became the last major broadcaster in the Tampa market to go local HD with the planned debut of its early-evening newscast on June 30.
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