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New Scripps Hubs Spell Downsizing

Citing "an unprecedented time of change in how stations deliver news," Scripps Television is creating hubs for traffic and graphics that will spell downsizing in these departments. Traffic for the Scripps stations will be based at KNXV Phoenix and WFTS Tampa and will be operational by the end of the third quarter. WFTS will also house the graphics hub, which Scripps aims to be fully operational in the fourth quarter.

Scripps has been one of the very few major groups that have been able to avoid major layoffs thus far, but the hubbing plan will result in downsizing. Scripps TV Senior V.P. Brian Lawlor told B&C that it's likely one or two traffic employees per station will be let go, and perhaps 30 more on the graphics side. Some displaced employees are likely to end up staffing the hubs.

"Technology now allows the majority of these functions to be performed more efficiently through hubbing," Lawlor told employees in a memo July 10. "By establishing company-owned hubs, we are building an infrastructure that will reduce duplication of work and increase efficiency in a far more cost-effective manner."

Lawlor said Tampa was a smart choice for centralization, as the WFTS facility has an open floor. Phoenix worked for traffic due to its location in the Mountain Time Zone, which allows it to stay open later than the rest of the Scripps stations.

Scripps owns 10 stations, including WEWS Cleveland and WPTV West Palm Beach.

Lawlor says the hubbing plan was in the works for about a year, and is not a reaction to the economy heading south. "We're trying to create more efficient ways of doing business," he said.