NBC stations join nonprofits for news collaborations

NBC's owned television stations announced a series of partnerships with nonprofit news groups this week as part of an agreement Comcast made with the FCC last year for approval of the merger with the NBC network.

All 10 of NBC's stations will team with Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, a nonprofit group specializing in investigative journalism. WMAQ-TV, NBC's station in Chicago, will collaborate with The Chicago Reporter blog and its magazine. WHYY-TV in Philadelphia will work with WHYY, the public radio station, and NewsWorks, its community website.

KNBC-TV in Los Angeles will team up with KPCC, a public radio station, while NBC's KNSD-TV in San Diego will continue its pre-Comcast deal with voiceofsandiego.org, a nonprofit news website.

The partnerships were part of a written deal by Comcast with the FCC last year in order to broaden local news coverage. NBC began looking for partners last May, the "New York Times" reported. Surprisingly, the newspaper reported, Comcast did not link exclusively with websites like voiceofsandiego.org, which is nationally recognized for its local journalism, but also teamed with radio and print organizations.

"We cast a wide net," Valari Staab, the president of the NBC-owned television stations, told the "Times." She said the NBC stations "looked for what organizations we thought could contribute unique content we couldn't otherwise have."

The news partnerships allow NBC's stations to increase news coverage without adding more staff. "The true value of the partnerships is helping local television affiliates — which have cut back under tough times in recent years — fill their many broadcast hours with valuable public service journalism," Scott Lewis, the chief executive of voiceofsandiego.org, told the "Times."

NBC is paying "donations" to each of the partners, though Staab would not reveal the amounts. She said she anticipated the groups would bring different things to the table in each market.

NBC been on a recent campaign to beef up the news capabilities of its owned stations. All 10 had faced cuts before Comcast took over. The cable operator has added newscasts, replaced production equipment and hired reporters in most of the station's markets.