WYOU-TV Cuts Local News

SCRANTON, PENN: WYOU-TV in this Eastern Seaboard community is the latest station to affect an exit from the local news business. WYOU, the CBS affiliate, broadcast its last local newscast Friday night after a quick staff scrum earlier in the day where 14 full-time members were let go, according to local media outlets.

WFLA-TV in Tampa, Fla., said last week it would ax its newscasts as of April 30. WRBL-TV, the Columbus, Ga., CBS affiliate owned by Media General, dropped its noon and 5 p.m. newscasts effective today.

In each case, the cost of doing news was said to be too prohibitive. Life without news is expected to save WYOU around $900,000 a year.

WYOU is owned by Mission Broadcasting of Brecksville, Ohio, and operated under a joint service agreement by Nexstar Broadcasting, which also owns WBRE-TV, the NBC in the market. WBRE was producing the newscasts for WYOU at 4, 6, and 11 p.m.

While spot television ad spending was up nearly 14 percent in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market last year, both WBRE and WYOU compete with WNEP-TV, the local ABC affiliate with some of the highest rated local newscast in the county.

The newscasts will be replaced by syndicated fare. “Judge Joe Brown” will be plugged in at 4 p.m.; “Access Hollywood,” “The Insider,” and “Entertainment Tonight,” at 6 p.m. weekdays and Sundays at 11 p.m.

Irving, Texas-based Nexstar (NASDAQ: NXST) most recent agreed to operate the seven TV stations owned by Four Points Media Group for $2 million a year plus a percentage of cash flow. Those stations were in Salt Lake City, Austin, Texas; Providence, R.I., and West Palm Beach, Fla.

The company posted a net loss of $51.4 million on revenues of $285 million for 2008, though net loss could increase when a pending 4Q impairment figure is finalized. Shares of NXST have been trading at around 70 cents since falling below a dollar last November. -- Deborah D. McAdams