Raycom Media, MCG Capital to merge newsrooms of Hawaii stations

The impact of the economic woes confronting TV newsrooms around the country reached Hawaii last month with the announcement that Raycom Media and MCG Capital intend to merge newsroom operations of their stations in Honolulu.

In mid-August, the companies announced they would enter into a shared services agreement under which the newsrooms of Raycom Media-owned KHNL/KFVE in Honolulu, HI, and KGMB, the MCG Capital-owned CBS affiliate, would be merged. KHNL is an NBC affiliate, and KFVE, “K5, The Home Team,” is a MyNetworkTV affiliate.

According to media reports, more than 100 full-time employees work at KNHL/KFVE and more than 90 at KGMB. Layoffs from both are planned and could affect as many as 70 jobs.

A story on the KHNL Web site said the reasons behind the merger included fragmenting TV audiences and the recession, which have made TV news less profitable than in the past. According to the KHNL story, in 2006, Hawaii TV stations had combined revenue of $68 million. That fell to $48 million, a decline of 29 percent, this year, the story said.

“The purpose of a shared services agreement is to not only secure the future of KHNL, K5 and KGMB, but to operate them more efficiently and effectively without diminishing the quality of news and other programming provided to our customers in Hawaii,” Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media, said in a statement issued announcing the move.

“Given the challenges of operating a stand-alone station in these very difficult markets, MCG views the shared services agreement as a smart and creative way to manage its continuing ownership investment in KGMB,” Rick Blangiardi, president and general manager of KGMB, said in the press statement.

The shared services agreement is scheduled to become effective in mid-October. The stations’ combined newsroom will become the biggest in the state.

The consolidation and anticipated job losses are in line with an ongoing national trend. According to the most recent RTNDA-Hofstra University study of newsroom staffing, the approximately 770 local TV stations producing news cut 1200 journalism newsroom positions last year.