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Tribune, Local TV Team Up in Denver, St. Louis

Tribune and Local TV agreed to operate their respective duopolies out of joint facilities in Denver and St. Louis.

The broadcasters have a local-marketing agreement for their stations in Denver and a shared-services agreement for their stations in St. Louis. The agreements “allow the stations to locate in the same facility, use combined news operations and share certain programming,” Tribune said in a statement.

Tribune The CW outlet KPLR and Local TV Fox affiliate KTVI will operate out of KPLR’s St. Louis headquarters. A lone newsroom will produce nine hours of news per day, with no on-air overlap.

KWGN vice president and general manager Jim Zerwekh and KPLR VP/GM Bill Lanesey are leaving their stations amid the new setup.

“By joining with KPLR, we can combine the best of both stations in newsgathering and production,” KTVI GM and St. Louis market manager Spencer Koch said. “If the people of St. Louis want to watch news, they will find it on Channel 2 (KTVI) or Channel 11 (KPLR). We are working to our audience’s schedule, not ours.”

Local’s KDVR and Tribune’s KWGN -- a Fox and a CW, respectively -- will share KDVR’s Denver facility.

“Both KDVR (Fox channel 31) and KWGN (CW channel 2) have a strong local presence in the morning,” said Denver market manager Dennis Leonard, who just announced that he was shifting from WBRC Birmingham, Ala., to KDVR last week. “We will continue to go head-to-head on our morning newscasts and focus on delivering more options for news viewing in the noon, 5:30 and late-news slots. Both of the stations have strong, loyal viewers. We will take the best of both newscasts and repackage it for each station.”

Tribune and Local TV, which acquired eight Fox affiliates from News Corp. earlier this year, are not strangers to each other. The two agreed to form “a third-party broadcast-management company that will provide shared services to all of the stations Local TV and Tribune own” late last year.

Tribune Broadcasting president Ed Wilson spoke of creating efficiencies in both markets.

“In each case, we can leverage the strengths of two great stations to serve viewers with more news and the most popular entertainment programming,” he said. “On top of that, we can provide advertisers the ease and efficiency of one-stop shopping, delivering even greater reach.”

Local TV CEO Bobby Lawrence mentioned streamlining delivery costs and providing more local programming. He called the move “part of TV’s evolution.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.