NBCU Launching Local News Nets

Starting this week, NBCU's local media division is launching 24-hour news and information multicast channels on owned-and-operated stations in Miami, Dallas and three California DMAs.

The move, which is expected to be announced today (May 2), is the beginning of its ramp-up of local news and information programming on some O&O', a promise it and Comcast made to the Federal Communications Commission early on in an effort to win approval of their joint venture.

As one of the voluntary conditions on the deal, which the FCC later made part of the official Comcast/NBCU order, NBC Local Media is adding 1,00 hours per year of additional local news and information progrmming. Starting the week of May 2, stations in Miami, Dallas, L.A., San Jose (San Francisco) and San Diego, will be launching "nonstop" multicast digital news/information channels that will also have cable carriage, according to the company. That will expand its 24-hour local news channel presence to nine markets.
Each of the new channels will include a nightly, weekday newscast "complementing and expanding" on the newscasts already airing on the stations' primary channels. The stations providing the news are WTVJ Miami; KXAS Dallas, and the triumverate of KNBC Los Angeles, KNTV San Jose (San Francisco), and KNSD San Diego, which will combine resources for one channel, but with each producing a separate local newscast.

In addition to the new digital news channel, WTVJ will expand one of its half-hour newscasts on the primary channel to a full hour. KXAS already recently expanded its news operation on the primary channel adding a half-hour of local weather at 4:30 a.m., one of many stations starting news earlier in the morning to attract early-rising commuters.
Programming across all three of the new news channels will include The Rundown,a half-hour described as a "lively blend of topics appealing to viewers in each market," and hosted by local anchor teams in an "engaging, informal and creative way'; and Scene In...," a weekly show focusing on local trends and events.

In Dallas and the California channel, Morning Mix will be an hour morning news show highlighting events and
interesting topics. In Florida, lifestyle program, Miami Moms, will provide advice on motherhood.
An NBC spokesman says the new channels and programs in those five markets will meet NBCU's ramp-up pledge to the FCC.

"These new offerings continue our ongoing effort to expand our local news and information programming in our ten
O&O markets," said John Wallace, President, NBC Local Media, in announcing the new channels. "We're happy to
announce that we've begun to fulfill the localism commitment we made on the day we announced our transaction,
we're excited about building on our already significant contributions to local television journalism and we're
very proud to be able to deliver this important service to our viewers."

NBC is also planning to add 1,000 hours of programming to co-owned Telemundo stations, but will not
announce those plans until summer.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.