Tribune and Local TV Holdings are combining their stations in the two markets under management agreements. In Denver, KWGN and KDVR will be co-located at KDVR under the management of Local TV’s Dennis Leonard. In St. Louis, KPLR and KTVI will be combined at KPLR under the management of Local TV’s Spencer Koch.
Further tightening their close relationship, Tribune Co. and Local TV Holdings are creating Fox-CW duopolies in Denver (DMA 18) and St. Louis (DMA 21) by combining their stations there.
In Denver, Tribune’s KWGN (CW) and Local TV’s KDVR (Fox) will be co-located at KDVR under the management of KDVR GM Dennis Leonard.
In St. Louis, Tribune’s KPLR (CW) and Local TV’s KTVI (Fox) will be merged at KPLR under the management of KTVI GM Spencer Koch.
In addition to the co-locations, the shared services agreement in St. Louis and the local marketing agreement in Denver will allow the stations to combine news operations and share certain programming, according to a joint press release from Tribune and Local TV.
The groups expect the agreements to go into effect on Oct. 1.
In St. Louis, the stations will use one newsroom to produce nine hours of news every day, with no overlap, the groups’ said.
“People today need local news programs throughout the day, not just in the morning, the early evening and at 9 or 10 p.m.,” said Local TV’s Koch, who will be the St. Louis market manager, in a prepared statement.
“If the people of St. Louis want to watch news, they will find it on Channel 2 [KTVI] or Channel 11 [KPLR]. We are working to our audience’s schedule, not ours.”
KPLR recently launched an hour-long local newscast at 7 p.m. News at 7 is one of the few primetime newscasts in the country, and the only one in St. Louis, the station groups said.
Tribune’s Leonard, the Denver market manager, said in a press release that the two stations under his wing will “continue to go head to head on our morning newscasts and focus on delivering more options for news viewing in the noon, 5:30 and late news slots.
“We will take the best of both newscasts and repackage it for each station,” he said.
In the press release, Ed Wilson, president of Tribune Broadcast, said the duopolies will “enable us to create efficiencies…in each market to serve the local community like never before.
“In addition, we’ll reduce our overall operating costs and use the savings to enhance the technology at each of these stations, build out our HD capabilities and claim the No. 1 position as the most locally-focused broadcasters in each market.”
Odd men out are the two Tribune GMs: Jim Zerwekh at KWGN and Bill Lanesey at KPLR.
Leonard had replaced Bill Schneider at the helm of Local TV’s KDVR just last week.
Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said it was too early to say how many other employees would be losing their jobs as a result of the station mergers.
“That’s all yet to be determined,” he said. It depends “on how the stations are consolidated.”
Even prior to the St. Louis and Denver deals, the Tribune and Local TV groups were closely aligned.
Although the groups have separate ownership, they have common management in the form or The Other Company, which is headed by Randy Michaels, who doubles as COO of the Tribune Co.
The company “allows us to share certain back office functions like HR and share technology and it gives us better leverage in negotiating for talent and programming,” said Weitman.
The St. Louis and Denver deals are “logical extensions” of the groups’ cooperation, Weitman said.
“We are familiar with them and they are familiar with us.”