Nexstar is bringing news competition back to Utica, N.Y., with evening and late news on ABC affiliate WUTR and late news on Fox affiliate WFXV — all in HD.
Come Sept. 12, Nexstar Broadcasting Group’s ABC-Fox duopoly Utica, N.Y. (DMA 171), will resume broadcasting local news for the first time since 2003 — and do so in HD.
WUTR (ABC) has scheduled Monday-through-Friday newscasts at 6 and 11 p.m., and WFXV (Fox), at 10 p.m., commencing that Monday.
Nexstar owns WFXV and, through an outsourcing agreement, operates WUTR, which is licensed to Mission Broadcasting. Nexstar also operates the market’s MNT outlet, low-power WPNY.
According to Steve Merren, VP and GM of the duopoly, both stations were airing news in 2003. But Clear Channel Television, which then owned WUTR, shut down the news operation because it was losing money, he said. The next year, Clear Channel sold the station to Nexstar.
For a couple of years in the early 2000s, WFXV aired a newscast that was produced by the market’s NBC affiliate, Smith Media’s WKTV. That arrangement came to an end in 2003.
According to Merren, Nexstar initiative will break WKTV’s monopoly on local news and also beat it in airing news in HD. “You can’t buy equipment today that isn’t capable of HD,” he said. “So, why not just go ahead and do it?”
According to a just released survey by the RTDNA and Hofstra University, WUTR and WFXV will become rarities. Only 9.3% of stations in DMAs 151 and above are producing news in HD, the survey found. Among all stations, 40.3% offer HD news.
WPNY will rebroadcast WUTR’s 6 p.m. newscast each weekday at 7 p.m. in SD, giving viewers another option, Merren said.
The WUTR-WFXV news team includes Joe Parker, news director and co-anchor of WUTR Eyewitness News at 6 and 11 p.m.; Caroline Gable, co-anchor of WUTR Eyewitness News at 6 and 11 p.m. and Fox 33 Eyewitness News at 10 p.m.; and Jeff Matthews, chief meteorologist.