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LA Times: KCOP a 'Zombie Station'

KCOP, the less famous half of Fox’s Los Angeles duopoly, has been relegated to nothing more than a “zombie station” with no true identity, writes Paul Rainey in the LA Times. Rainey laments that it’s KTTV personnel that writes, reports and presents the KCOP news.

The station’s news operation has been taken over — lock, stock, news desk and teleprompter — by its duopoly partner, KTTV-TV Channel 11, the local Fox television affiliate, which itself has been hobbled by mass layoffs in recent months.

The emergence of KCOP as the first (but likely not last) of the news undead may seem like a trivial milepost in what has been a decades-long slide by local TV news into banality, trivia and marginalization.

Rainey laments that you don’t even see the KCOP branding anymore, a victim of consolidation in the modern media world.

The Fox-MyNet duop went through heavy layoffs last month, but GM Kevin Hale tells the Times that “our on-air product is as good as it ever was.”

Rainey doesn’t seem to be buying it.

Late Tuesday, I treated myself to KCOP, which spent a few minutes reporting on the “hunky Santa” competition at a local mall, with plenty of shots of shirtless young musclemen preening for the camera. Then weatherman Mark Thompson danced — yes, danced — across the set as the day’s forecast flitted across the screen.

Apparently improvisational dance is a Fox leitmotif, since the next day I caught Maria Quiban shimmying through part of her forecast on KTTV. In the most cringe-inducing moment, fill-in anchor Michael Brownlee joined in, swaying in his chair and loosening his tie as if he might shift into full Chippendales mode.

Can anything be done to restore more substance to the market that brought the world Warren Olney, Jess Marlow and Tom Brokaw?