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On New Year's Eve, Local Rules

On New Year's Eve, Local Rules On New Year's Eve, NBC's Atlanta affiliate won't tune into the Carson Daly-hosted special in New York. Instead, Gannett-owned WXIA will air the city's Peach Drop celebration, where an 800-pound crystal peach signals midnight.

“This is an alternative to the networks,” says VP/GM Robert Walker. “What makes us different is covering local events.”

The Peach Drop, hosted by WXIA weatherman Paul Ossmann and staged by downtown group Underground Atlanta, is so popular that this year's event will be carried in 30 TV markets across the Southeast.

Regis Philbin will fill in for ailing Dick Clark on ABC's annual show, and American Idol's Ryan Seacrest will host a Fox program. CBS will offer The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show. But some local stations are avoiding or delaying network fare in favor of homegrown events.

For example, in Las Vegas, where the city's centennial celebration kicks off New Year's Eve, local stations will blanket the festivities. “The network coverage is a little ahead of us,” says KVBC Executive VP/GM Gene Greenberg. “When it is midnight in New York, it's still only 9 p.m. here.” KVBC will dispatch 70 staffers, including anchors, across the city, and will send up its helicopter. At midnight, 15 cameras will capture the eight-minute fireworks show. Competitor KVVU, Meredith Broadcasting's Fox affiliate, will cover the events live from the trendy Palms Hotel, the Fashion Show mall and downtown.

Live music gets top billing on CBS' Chicago O&O WBBM, which will broadcast the New Year's Chicago Rocks Live concert from the House of Blues in HD. WBBM's Susan Carlson and Bill Zwecker host the hour-long show, Chicago's first locally produced live non-sports event in HD. “This is about breaking new ground,” says Joe Ahern, president/GM.

For a calmer Christmas celebration, 13 Tribune stations, including WPIX New York, will air WPIX's traditional Yule log. The image, which aired from 1966 to 1989 and returned in 2001, will burn a little brighter this year—in HD.

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