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Newscasts Added in Duluth and Orlando

ORLANDO, FLA., and DULUTH, MINN.: Two TV stations announced the addition of local newscasts on their schedules. KQDS-TV, the Fox affiliate serving Duluth is adding a 6 p.m., weekday newscast beginning June 28, the station’s Web site says. KQDS, owned by Red River Broadcasting of Fargo, N.D., launched local news in 2007 and currently has a single daily newscast at 9 p.m. It didn’t specify the length of either newscast.

WESH-TV, the NBC affiliate serving Orlando, expanded its afternoon news franchise, adding a half-hour at 4:30 p.m. as of March 31. President and General Manager Jim Carter said the station saw a need for news in that slot and filled it. WESH, owned by Hearst Television, already has a newscast at 4 p.m. and is reported to be the only station in the area doing late-afternoon news. The station’s been doing news for more than 20 years and has several newscasts throughout the day.

The two stations are among several adding or expanding local news franchises over the last year, despite the economic contraction in broadcasting. The Pew Research Center recently reported that staffing in local TV newsrooms has dropped 6 percent--around 1,600 people--over the last two years, and that revenues fell on average 22 percent last year.

Yet stations added local news. KITV-TV in Honolulu is adding a half-hour at 6 p.m. on Saturdays beginning May 1. Stations adding news last year included KXRM-TV in Colorado Springs, Colo.; KIAH-TV in Houston, WESH added a nightly 10 p.m. newscast; WTVT-TV in Tampa, Fla., added 30 minutes at 4:30 a.m. WNBC-TV remade its 5 p.m. newscast to appeal to the so-called “younger, hipper” crowd.

Others did cut back. KWKT-TV in Waco, Texas scaled its 30-minute, 9 p.m. newscast down to about eight minutes with periodic updates throughout the day. WNBC-TV replaced its 5 p.m. newscast with an entertainment info-franchise. WHYY-TV, a Philadelphia PBS member station, cut the local newscast it ran for 46 years.

Months after WHYY cut its franchise, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced a $10.5 million investment in local news for PBS and NPR member stations. The initiative is targeting stations in the Southwest, the Plains states, upstate New York and central Florida.