WFFT, which will go independent on Aug. 1 after failing to renew its Fox affiliation, will replace the Fox primetime programming with Extra!, The Insider and, beginning this fall, back-to-back airings of The Big Bang Theory. It’s also adding a half hour of late news and promising full HD news by October.
WFFT Ft. Wayne, Ind. (DMA 107), one of the Nexstar Broadcasting Group stations that lost its Fox affiliation in its on-going dispute with the network over programming fees, announced today plans to move forward as an independent with more news, what it claims is the market’s first full HD news and syndicated programming and movies in primetime.
The programming will bow in on Aug. 1, when WFFT’s Fox affiliation lapses. Nexstar is promising the HD news on Oct. 1.
“Launching WFFT Local reflects our deep commitment to the community and focus on addressing the interests of our local viewing audiences,” said VP and GM Bill Ritchhart in a statement.
“WFFT Local is building upon its highly successful and award-winning news product and immediately increasing the amount of local news content and staff. In addition, WFFT Local will remain the ‘go to’ source for viewers on the Web and through mobile devices for in-depth reporting and up-to-the-minute weather,” Ritchhart added.
On Aug. 1, WFFT’s First News at 10 weekday newscast will expand to a full hour. By Oct. 1, the weekend versions of the newscast will also go to an hour.
Also by Oct. 1, the station will debut a weekly sports wrap-up show, The Locker Room, on Sundays at 11 p.m. The show will recap the week’s local, regional and national sporting events, covering everything from local high school sports to local professional teams and the big games from around the country.
The new weekday prime time entertainment lineup will debut on Aug. 1 with Extra! at 8 p.m., followed by The Insider at 8:30 and Law & Order SVU at 9.
On Sept. 19, Law & Order will be replaced by back-to-back airings of The Big Bang Theory, the highly rated CBS sitcom that is moving into syndication the fall.
On Saturdays beginning at 8 p.m,, the station will offer its own Saturday Crimetime lineup, with the popular hit dramas Cold Squad followed by DaVinci’s Inquest at 9. On Sunday, it will present Family Night at the Movies.
Nexstar has lost the Fox affiliation in three other markets — Springfield, Mo.; Terre Haute, Ind.; and Evansville, Ind. — after failing to come to terms with Fox on stiff fees that the network in now demanding from all of its affiliates as a condition of renewal. The fees reflect Fox’s belief that it deserves a big share of the retransmission consent revenue that stations are getting from cable and satellite operators.