Meredith Corp.'s Local Media Group said it has prepared contingency plans that should enable it to continue to keep viewers informed during the coronavirus crisis.
The company said all of its 17 stations remain open and operational at this point, but it has created remote hubs in Phoenix and Atlanta in order to keep its stations on air and online if one or more were forced to temporarily close.
Each station has been practicing contingency plans including producing news broadcast from alternate locations.
All of Meredith's news stations are airing coronavirus updates every hour via mobile news apps and social channels. Some of the stations are also adding special newscasts, in some cases to fill slots previously occupied by network programming that has been canceled.
“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, and we also believe it is of the utmost importance to continue to provide the public with high-quality journalism they can trust during this time. I am extremely proud of the work each and every one of our employees is doing,” said Local Media Group president Patrick McCreery. “Our stations are taking a number of preventative measures to do our part in flattening the curve, including asking all reporters, photographers and multimedia journalists to work remotely when possible, anchors staying at least six feet apart during newscasts and using several locations on the news set and in newsrooms, and advising all other employees not critical to news production to work from home.”
Meredith's WFSB-TV in Hartford, plans to air a three-hour special from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday evening. The first hour will provide a recap of the Connecticut government’s response to the crisis so far. The second hour will cover the response from the medical community. The final hour will focus on how local communities are responding.
Viewing of Meredith’s local stations has been up because of the crisis. Between March 9 and March 16, Nielsen data shows households using television at their highest levels so far in 2020.
“Our news stations are a part of the communities they serve, and right now it’s important that we support those communities,” said Gary Brown, the station group’s senior VP of content. “Our ‘Surprise Squad’ teams in markets across the country are highlighting and thanking medical personnel and first responders who are risking their lives to save others.”