Beginning January 1, viewers of Sinclair owned FOX affiliate WUHF will be watching a different newscast than the one they’ve watched for the last eight years.
Because of Sinclair’s purchase of ABC affiliate WHAM in December 2012 and the expiration of a shared services agreement between WUHF and CBS affiliate WROC viewers will see a WHAM produced newscast on the FOX affiliate instead of the one produced by Nexstar owned WROC.
Currently, WHAM produces a 10:00 p.m. news and a morning show for the Rochester digital CW affiliate. The plan is to have those shows move to FOX. The 10:00 p.m. news will be retitled, “13 WHAM News at 10 on FOX Rochester.” The morning show will be called “Good Day Rochester.”
“We have the No. 1 news broadcast news brand in the market … and we’re going to continue to do that brand on Fox,” WHAM general manager Chuck Samuels told Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle. “We’re not going to pretend we’re something else. Everyone’s going to know it’s 13 WHAM’s production.”
As part of the new agreement between Sinclair and its holding company Deerfied Media, which is listed as the owner of WHAM, the ABC affiliate will also take over sales operations for WUHF.
“I’m really disappointed when I see local TV news stations get rid of their newsgathering functions,” said Jeffrey M. McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University. “In the TV news industry, there’s already a lot of consonance, where everybody’s covering the same thing anyway. When you have a station picking up newscasts from a competitor, you’ve lost all that extra news judgment.”
But Samuels disagrees. He told the Democrat and Chronicle having WHAM run both the CW affiliate and WUHF, viewers will see “far fewer programming conflicts. Samuels added, “A couple years ago, I put The Steve Wilkos Show, unbeknownst to me, up against Jerry Springer. Some of the viewers said, why on earth would you do that? Now, if we’re doing court shows on one channel, do the conflict talk shows on the other, or vice versa.”