WJLA to Launch Local News Mag

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV Washington is starting its own monthly news magazine show.

No firm date has been set for the launch, though September is likely.

The hour show will preempt various "weak points" in the network's prime time schedule once a month--at the moment for its own local show (so don't look for it replacing Desperate Housewives or Lost anytime soon).

At the moment, Thursday would be the most likely prospect, given ABC's ratings on the night. But fall could be an entirely new story.

The station preempts for a number of specials throughout the year--a weather special with meteorologist Doug Hill, for example, or a news special in May prompted by a rash of teen driving deaths.

Those specials have almost invariably outrawn the network shows they replaced, though WJLA may have fewer spots to choose from as ABC continues to mend its schedule.

Station affiliation contracts give them a certain number of preemptions for local programming per year.

WJLA has hired veteran documentary producer Ray Farkas to executive produce the new magaine, which will also serve as an opportunity to promote the station's news team--Leon Harris, Kathleen Matthews, Gordon Peterson, Maureen Bunyan, and others--who have helped drive major ratings growth at WJLA.

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.