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UPDATE: Fox and NBC Want To Take Joint News Service National

Fox Television Stations and NBC Local Media are joining forces on a local news service to launch in Philadelphia in January. Similar setups will follow in other markets where both media giants own stations, and the principals eventually hope to see it in place in all markets where Fox and NBC have affiliates.

“We want to use this template to roll it out in all the markets we are in,” said Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy. “We want to create a template that works nationally.”

News Corp. President Peter Chernin has suggested such a move was in the works, telling B&C several weeks ago: “I think you will see us explore various newsgathering efficiencies with other television stations. We should all be looking for ways to offer better services to consumers and do our jobs better. Sometimes that will mean drawing huge and significant moats around ourselves and in other cases it will lead us to various forms of cooperation.”

The service “will gather and distribute general market video coverage to the participating stations, allowing them to efficiently use resources to focus on more specialized franchise reporting,” said Fox in a statement. Fox’s WTXF and NBC’s WCAU will continue to operate independently in all other respects.

“By allowing us to save on duplicate expenditures we can be even more competitive with NBC and other stations through signature pieces and investigative reporting,” said Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy.

The companies will make their joint content available to other media outlets in each market, including rival stations, print publications, radio and digital media. 

“By pooling resources to provide video coverage of general market events, we can ensure our stations are covering the news of the day,” said NBC Local Media President John Wallace, “and at the same time, focus our efforts on the type of specialized reporting that defines our brands and differentiates our stations within their communities.”

NBC and Fox will provide newsgathering and transmission resources to the startup, including a helicopter, personnel and equipment. According to the Fox statement, “The news service management will independently identify the stories to be covered each day and make arrangements to gather and transmit the video back to each of the stations. The stations will each decide how the material is to be used in their own newscasts, using their own writing and editorial voice. All employees involved in the local news service will remain part of their respective companies.”

Besides Philadelphia, NBC and Fox both own stations in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Washington. Similar news services will launch in at least some of those markets.

NBC and Fox are also partners in the web video venture Hulu, and Fox recently got together with LIN TV to program their TV station Web sites, which include a number of NBC affiliates.

With John Eggerton