Blaming the lack of network compensation and the costs of the transition to
digital, another ABC affiliate is shutting down its news department.
WKPT-TV Kingsport, Tenn. (market No. 93), and co-owned WAPK-LP, a low-power
United Paramount Network affiliate, will end their weekday half-hour newscast
and brief updates Feb. 18.
The move eliminates five of the seven jobs in the stations' news
The Holston Valley Broadcasting-owned station said it plans to continue
airing a nightly newscast, but one produced by another station in the
Media General Inc.-owned WJHL-TV confirmed negotiations, but said no deal was
WJHL-TV has a 36-person news department. WKPT-TV said it would be keeping
news director and former anchor Betty Payne and another staffer.
WKPT-TV had been cutting back its news for the past few years, and ratings
were in the 1 range -- well below its competition.
'Regrettably,' Holston president George DeVault said, 'the current business
climate, coupled with the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] mandate to
construct and operate a new digital-television station and the decision of the
major television networks like ABC to stop paying monetary compensation to
affiliates for carrying network programs has made it impossible for many small
stations to maintain a traditional local news effort and still produce a modest
profit for their shareholders.'
In the past few months, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. has killed news
departments in St. Louis and Winston-Salem, N.C., both ABC affiliates.
ABC officials could not be reached.