Sinclair-owned WPGH-TV Pittsburgh last week fired 11 news and production employees while also announcing that it will introduce an 11 p.m. weeknight newscast on June 9.
The staff cuts are part of Sinclair's new centralized news operation—News Central—based in Hunt Valley, Md., Sinclair's corporate headquarters near Baltimore. News Central feeds international and national news as well as weather to supplement WPGH-TV's local reporting. WPGH-TV has been using News Central weekend weather reports since the beginning of the year.
The 11 p.m. newscast will run 30 minutes and will follow the Fox affiliate's hour newscast at 10 p.m. In addition, the station will expand its current Saturday 10 p.m. newscast from 30 minutes to an hour.
The addition of the weeknight half-hour follows similar introductions at other Sinclair stations, including its flagship, WBFF(TV) Baltimore.
Among those laid off last week were WPGH-TV meteorologist Matt Morano, weekend sports anchor Matt Fine and reporter Bill Clark, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The paper also reported that the fired staffers can apply for jobs at other Sinclair stations that are preparing to introduce local newscasts that will also feature News Central material. Sinclair owns or operates 63 stations in 41 markets.
WPGH-TV Station Manager Alan Frank said in a prepared statement that "Sinclair is very committed to the News Central model. It's a multimillion-dollar venture aimed at creating a new way to present news."
In addition to supplementing the Sinclair stations' newscasts, News Central, scheduled to launch May 28, will also be able to supply entire newscasts for the company's stations that don't currently air news.
"We're building a mini-network that will include as many as 40 markets," Frank told the Associated Press last week.
His station, he said to AP, will have a new news set that matches those at News Central for a seamless appearance. Frank wouldn't comment to BROADCASTING & CABLE.