And maybe for Chicago and Los Angeles, the mega-station group says, but only if the FCC approves its merger with Tribune. Sinclair also says that post-merger it will distribute a Tribune morning show (Morning Dose) on some Sinclair stations and a weekly Sinclair news magazine (Full Measure) on all Tribune stations.
Sinclair may have been stingy with details on how it intends to comply with FCC ownership limits in response to agency questions about its $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, but it offered some specifics for news and other local programming changes that may come if the deal is approved.
In New York, Sinclair said in its after-hours filing yesterday, it may extend the morning news on Tribune’s WPIX, which now runs from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., by two hours.
Sinclair said it also “sees an opportunity” to launch a 10 p.m. newscast on Tribune’s MNT affiliate WTVZ Norfolk, Va., and will expand WDCW Washington’s half-hour newscasts at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to full hours.
In St. Louis, Sinclair said it will add news at 4:30 a.m.; 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. It didn’t say which station in St. Louis — Sinclair owns KDNL (ABC) and it will be acquiring KTVI (Fox) and KPLR (CW). Either KDNL or KTVI may have to be sold to comply with the FCC’s local ownership rules.
“Sinclair has not yet identified opportunities to expand local newscasts in Chicago [WPIX] or Los Angeles [KTLA], but intends to explore such opportunities and will look to leverage the strength of those markers,” the filing said.
It intends to distribute its Sunday morning investigative new program Full Measure across all the Tribune stations, it said.
And it is considering launching Morning Dose, a Tribune show that now runs in six markets, on 25 Sinclair stations. “This would add two hours of morning news in many markets which currently air paid programming or syndicated programming during those time slots,” including Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; Buffalo, N.Y.; Albany, N.Y.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Sioux City, Iowa, and Tallahassee, Fla.
Sinclair said that it may expand its Thursday Night Lights/Friday Night Rivals high school sports program to as many as 23 Tribune markets over the next four years.
Sinclair also promised to increase investigative reporting at the Tribune stations, noting that it has expanded its investigative teams at WJLA Washington from four to 11 since acquiring it in 2014 and introduced investigative reporters for the first time at 12 of its other stations.
It anticipates hiring between 60 and 90 new hires “to help develop and improve Tribune’s online presence,” it said.
There will be no “immediate changes” in the staffing at Tribune stations until “it has learned more about the Tribune stations’ operations and is able to properly evaluate each station’s growth potential and related needs,” it added.
The cost savings from the merger will come from the elimination of duplicative high-level corporate jobs and “redundant facilities and outside vendors.”