On HLN, The End of ‘Local Edition’

By Alex Weprin 

It is the end of an era at HLN, as the network has told its cable partners that it is pulling “Local Edition,” the five-minute segments at the bottom of every half-hour dedicated to local news and programming.

In a statement to TVNewser, the network laid out why it was choosing to stop carriage of the segments:

“Over the past several years, HLN has evolved its programming to focus more on long form shows, changing the programming format where Local Edition currently airs. After assessing viewer feedback, foregoing Local Edition furthers our programming evolution and benefits the viewer experience.”

Why is this a big deal?

Way back in the early days of cable, CNN decided to launch a little sister network called “CNN Headline News.” Some cable operators were reluctant to carry two news channels (how the world has changed…) and so CNN dangled a carrot in front of them to change their minds. That carrot was “Local Edition,” segments that were created and produced by the cable operators or local stations and that focused on local and regional programming.

For most of Headline News’ lifespan, “Local Edition” fit in fine with the overall flow of the network. In recent years however, with the shift to “HLN” and the focus on longer-form programming, “Local Edition” began to disrupt the flow of the programming, as HLN hinted at in its statement.

“Local Edition” may continue to live on in some cable systems. In the case of Charter Communications in California, the segment will move from HLN to the California Channel, according to the cable company. Other MSOs may move their “Local Edition” segments as well, but that isn’t clear as of yet.

The loss of “Local Edition” may be in HLN’s long-term interest, but it may also affect viewers, who are losing an opportunity to see local newsmakers on a national network. If the segments get moved to smaller channels, they may continue, but how many people will really see them?