CBS' L.A. Duop Launches ‘NewsCentral' Branding

KCBS and KCAL unveil their new branding at 5 p.m. September 19, inserting the term "NewsCentral" into the individual stations' brands. The aim is to remind viewers that the CBS-owned stations have the largest combined newsgathering resources of any broadcast operation in the market, says President/General Manager Patrick McClenahan.

KCBS is a CBS O&O and KCAL a CBS-owned independent; both work out of a joint Los Angeles newsroom and combine for 11 hours of news a day and 77 newscasts a week. Their brands will appear as CBS 2 NewsCentral and KCAL 9 NewsCentral, with the tagline "News that's central to your life."

"It's a natural extension of this duopoly," says McClenahan, "since we combined the stations and opened the new facility."

The rebrand coincides with a heightened emphasis on covering all corners of the vast Los Angeles market. The duopoly's managers point out that four of the #2 DMA's five counties don't have ‘Los Angeles' in their name-and residents there may be more interested in news from their community than from the DMA's more famous precincts.

The stations are also enhancing a strategic relationship with the Los Angeles Newspaper Group featuring headlines from the group's nine daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Daily News and Long Beach Press-Telegram. A recent soft launch saw tickers featuring newspaper headlines appear during newscasts in one daypart; with the rebrand, the tickers will run in all dayparts on KCBS and KCAL.

Besides wildfires threatening station antennae atop Mt. Wilson earlier this month, the big story in Los Angeles local television has been content sharing. June 15 marked the launch of a pool arrangement between Fox's KTTV, NBC's KNBC and Tribune's KTLA, with CBS declining an invitation to take part. McClenahan mentioned the pool setup when the CBS rebrand was announced in June: "At a time when many stations are electing to pool newsgathering resources," he said, "we are excited to be combining our own assets to cover Southern California like no one else can."

McClenahan said the decision to rebrand was not prompted by the competition's pooling arrangement.

CBS also announced that KCAL will boost its star power this season, as Brian McKnight, host of the new syndicated program The Brian McKnight Show, will pop in on the KCAL 10 p.m. news on Thursdays to preview his program, which airs at 11 p.m. His first appearance on KCAL is scheduled to be September 24.

CBS is plugging its vast media holdings, including local radio and outdoor advertising, to promote the KCBS-KCAL rebrand.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.