Original news kaput on WKPT
By Dan Trigoboff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/15/2002 9:56:00 AM EST
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 department.
The Holston Valley Broadcasting-owned station said it plans to continue airing a nightly newscast, but one produced by another station in the market.
Media General Inc.-owned WJHL-TV confirmed negotiations, but said no deal was in place.
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.