When WHAG-TV loses its NBC affiliation on June 30 it will expand local news, re-brand as Your Local News Leader and hire news, production, marketing and sales personnel.
Nexstar, the owner of WHAG since 2003, laid out these bold plans in an 800-word press release late this afternoon. But nowhere in the release does it mention that this is all happening because NBC, which has been in business with WHAG since 1970, is pulling its affiliation this summer, just weeks before the Summer Olympics, a lucrative time for any NBC affiliate. In fact, NBC isn’t mentioned at all, in the release.
WHAG, on the Western edge of the Washington, DC market, serves four states, including the areas in and around Hagerstown, Md., Chambersburg, Pa., Martinsburg, W.Va., and Winchester, Va. This means NBC’s owned D.C. station, WRC will now inherit NBC viewers in the fast-growing southeastern area served by WHAG, while Baltimore’s WBAL could inherit viewers from WHAG’s northeastern coverage area.
On July 1, WHAG will add 20 hours of news to the schedule, bringing the total number of hours of local programming to more than 50 per week. Nexstar also says it will invest $1 million to relocate WHAG-TV’s news bureaus, open additional field offices, add more than a dozen news and production personnel, develop a new on-air look and purchase new equipment, including weather technology and traffic systems.
The station says it will “reposition” news bureaus in Winchester, Va., and Germantown, Md., and add an office in Centerville, Va., in 2017.
“Nexstar and our Four State station operations are dedicated to supporting the evolving needs and interests of our local viewing communities, hometown businesses, and public organizations,” said Hugh Breslin, Vice President and General Manager of WHAG-TV. “Our market leading local news content will be complemented by a range of prime time shows, blockbuster movies and other entertainment programming – all expanding upon the service we have provided to our viewers for over 45 years,” Breslin added.