Bucking the time zone, KPLR-TV, Tribune's CW affiliate, is moving its 9 p.m. half-hour news to 7 p.m. and expanding the newscast to an hour. Beginning Sept. 8, CW network programming will clear as if KPLR were in the Eastern, not the Central Time Zone, at 8 p.m.
KPLR's newscast will be the only prime time newscast in the market.
"We feel there is a real opportunity to reach the news audience whose busy lifestyles may not allow them to be home in time for news that is over by 6:15 in the evening," said Sheldon Ripson, news director for KPLR.
While station execs say the move will benefit consumers who can't get home so soon, there's a side benefit to KPLR's virtual duopoly partner, KTVI, the Fox affiliate owned by Local TV LLC, which had only one competitor for its 9 p.m. news, KPLR. Both stations are to be operated via a managed services company formed by Tribune and Local TV.
Whatever KPLR's motive, the CW network is OK with KPLR shifting network programming by an hour."
"We have worked with Bill Lanesey [vp and general manager of KPLR) and Tribune over the last number of months of this matter. We respect the needs of our affiliates and their knowledge of their own individual marketplace," said Elizabeth Tumulty, senior vp of distribution for the CW. "As a new network constantly exploring innovative ways to drive ratings, we support KPLR's initiative to improve their business and will work in concert with them to make this experiment a success."