Share this article

print logo

TURNING THE CHANNELS ON 10 P.M. NEWS

It is 10 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?

That phrase may be uttered before a 10 p.m. newscast as soon as April 1 on Channel 67 if the sale of that station, WNGS, to the owners of Channel 7 is completed by then.

Then again, it may be uttered by April 1 even if the sale hits another delay.

The sale of WNGS, the local UPN affiliate, for $23 million to Granite Broadcasting, Channel 7's owner, was supposed to be finalized by Jan. 15.

But Carolyn Powley, who owns the Springville station with her husband, Bill Smith, said Granite has asked for an extension until Feb. 7 to make sure everything is in order.

According to Powley, Granite has received a zoning variance from the town of Colden to allow an independent contractor to put up a new tower for one or both stations. If the sale of WNGS doesn't get completed, Powley said she and her husband wouldn't be able to afford the steep antenna rent and would continue operations as they are now.

The delay seems routine, but after Sinclair Broadcasting backed out of its deal to buy Channel 23, nothing is taken as routine.

Channel 7 General Manager Bill Ransom acknowledges that, if and when Granite takes over, it will move Channel 67's headquarters to Buffalo and will start a 10 p.m. newscast delivered by Channel 7 personnel "as soon as possible." He can't say much more than that because the FCC frowns about prospective owners talking about acquisitions before the deal is approved.

There is speculation within the broadcasting community that the Channel 67 newscast will begin even if the sale isn't completed and approved by the FCC by April 1. Industry insiders speculate that Channel 7 may just buy the time from Channel 67 to get on by April 1 if the deal isn't finalized, but that may be a long shot.

Granite may be in a hurry to get its 10 p.m. news on because there are rumblings that WNYO-TV, the WB affiliate carried on Channel 49, is trying to get a 10 p.m. newscast on the air before Channel 7 can put its on.

The theory is that the first station in the market with a 10 p.m. news will have a huge advantage, which is why Channel 7 wants to proceed as fast as it can. The April 1 date would coincide with Nielsen's plan to begin measuring ratings nightly by meters, as well as using the quarterly diaries for demographics.

Channel 2 General Manager Darryll Green and Channel 4 General Manager Lou Verruto acknowledge they have had discussions with Channel 49 about providing a newscast for 10 p.m.

"Everybody would love the opportunity to do a 10 p.m. newscast," said Green. "We're not planning anything right this second."

Verruto said Channel 4 was interested in putting a newscast on Channel 4, but added: "We were not able to come to terms in terms of revenues and sales. It was not in our best interest to do it on the terms of the business model laid out to us."

It appears that the sticking point was over who would sell the commercials within the proposed newscast.

Channel 49, which sources say may have turned down a bid from Granite that was believed to be two times or three times the price the company paid for Channel 67, may have to adjust its terms if it plans to beat Channel 67 to the gate at 10 p.m.

A third option -- to make a deal with cable's Adelphia to hire a new news team and put a newscast on WNYO -- certainly would be much more costly than just carrying someone else's newscast.

Channel 29, the local Fox affiliate that has had years to start a 10 p.m. newscast, does so well with "Seinfeld" and "Frasier" reruns at that hour that it isn't interested in incurring the expense to start a newscast.

Channel 7's Ransom isn't giving out any details about who would anchor the proposed 10 p.m. news, other than to say it won't be members of the Eyewitness News team at 6 and 11 p.m.

You may have read the story a few Saturdays ago about the unhappiness among politically aware employees at Paramount resulting from the decision to start a new syndicated talk show with Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The story suggested that many in Hollywood consider her stance toward homosexuality as increasingly strident. The controversy hasn't scared off Channel 2, which has the rights to the show and plans to run it at 3 p.m. weekdays, starting in September.

Asked if the controversy concerns him, Channel 2's Green said: "We'll judge the show when it comes on the air."

Green said that the two shows that currently air between 3 and 4 p.m. -- "Family Feud" and "Judge Joe Brown" -- will be moved to new time slots in the fall.

Fox has moved its sitcom hit, "That '70s Show," to 8 p.m. Monday for the February sweeps and is dumping Jennifer Love Hewitt's low-rated "Time of Your Life." If NBC keeps "Freaks and Geeks" at 8 p.m. Mondays during the sweeps, that will means the '70s will be competing with the '80s (when "Freaks and Geeks" is set).

A couple of quarterbacks with Western New York ties, Ron Jaworski and Jim Kelly, will participate in a round-table discussion with Dan Fouts and Bob Griese during ABC's exhaustive four-hour Super Bowl pregame show Sunday. The discussion will be led by ESPN's Mike Tirico. On-line viewers can submit questions. Also included in the show: Chris Berman's Top 10 Super Bowl plays of all time.

To those who still haven't forgiven NBC for canceling "Homicide": The network has scheduled "Homicide: The Movie" for Feb. 13.

There are no comments - be the first to comment