Port Charles Exit Gives Local News a Boost


The departure of soap Port Charles from ABC's daytime schedule (its last day was Friday) proved a boon to news departments at some ABC O&Os and affiliates. It was a station-by-station decision on how to fill the vacated time period at the O&Os, according to ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover. Deciding to expand their local newscasts to fill the midday half-hour slot were WLS-TV Chicago, KABC-TV Los Angeles and KTRK-TV Houston.

Some affiliates took the news route as well. LIN TV's WTNH-TV New Haven, Conn., is expanding its noon newscast to an hour starting today.

Down South, WWSB(TV) Sarasota, Fla., trumpeted its noon news expansion, calling it an example of the station's commitment to local news and programming. It includes a cooking segment with local chefs and a call-in segment that will allow local groups to push their events and organizations.

The moves could play well in Washington, where stations' continued commitment to local news has been an issue in the debate over loosening ownership rules.

Still, news wasn't the primary beneficiary. On the ABC O&Os, syndicated Who Wants To Be a Millionaire got the half-hour 12:30 p.m. slot in New York; Philadelphia; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; San Francisco; and Flint, Mich. Jeopardy will get the time period in Fresno, Calif., and The Cosby Show will run in Toledo, Ohio.

Affiliate KGUN-TV Tucson, Ariz., decided not to expand its noon newscast and, instead, moved Inside Edition from its midnight slot to 12:30 p.m., according to Program Coordinator Donny Newman. In turn, it will replace Edition with paid programming.

"We are focusing on our evening and late newscasts," explained News Director Thor Wasbotten. "I know there is the argument about having some more inventory, and, on a newscast, you can usually make a little more money, but we don't want to dilute the product."