CBS could drop Detroit newscast

CBS -- which went for years without news on its Detroit station -- could
be dropping late newscasts in Detroit on both of its Viacom stations Inc. before
the end of the year, reliable sources have told Broadcasting & Cable.

Such a move has been under consideration for months, but it was delayed due to
the arrival of much-heralded new Viacom group executive vice president
Dennis Swanson, who quickly made numerous key executive changes in major markets
around the large and long-troubled station group, sources said.

Speculation about CBS affiliate WWJ-TV and its sister station, WKBD-TV, has
surfaced on Web postings, and it was addressed last week in the Detroit Free


The newspaper cited agents, news executives and past and present employees
handicapping CBS station WWJ-TV's and United Paramount Network sister station
WKBD(TV)'s newscasts' survival at about 50-50.

The newspaper also said Swanson and group news VP Princell
Hair have been less than reassuring when asked about the possibility of
continuing news in Detroit.

Station management has said it is 'committed to offering news programming,
along with top-notch sports and entertainment programming, to the community of
Detroit. Beyond that, we have no announcements to make at this time.'

While not guaranteeing the continuation of the late newscasts on either
station, the statement could suggest news in a different form in Detroit. Many
stations cited difficulty amortizing the high cost of news in a single hour or
two daily. Some expanded the product, and some pulled the plug.

Hampered by a weak UHF channel position,WWJ-TV --
which stood out for years among CBS stations as the only one without a
newscast -- finally got one in 2001 after the CBS group merged
with what had been the Paramount Television group.

Ironically, WKBD was one of the few surviving news
departments, as the Paramount group had axed several. Neither WKBD's 10 p.m.
newcasts nor WWJ-TV's newscast has been a ratings winner.