Tribune Shuts Down Production on Three Shows in Three Cities

By Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel 

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Tribune is shutting down production on three shows in three different markets.

Morning Dose in Houston, News Fix in Dallas and the late newscast at WDCW in Washington, D.C., are all ending within the next two weeks. The staff associated with those shows has been let go.

Larry Wert, the president of Tribune Broadcasting, sent this memo to employees today. It includes details about expanding newscasts at WPHL in Philadelphia and KIAH’s morning show from 90 minutes to three hours.

I want to take a moment this morning to make you aware of some strategic decisions we have made regarding newscasts in several of our markets. First, some context—while broadcasting delivered strong financial results in the second quarter, to continue being successful, we need to be constantly looking for new growth opportunities and finding new ways of improving our existing businesses. We must be nimble, innovative, and, where it makes sense to do so, be willing to re-think some of our strategies.

It is with these things in mind that we have made the decision to discontinue production of Morning Dose, News Fix in Houston and Dallas, and the late newscast at WDCW in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of a lot of talented employees, these shows haven’t delivered the ratings or the revenue we hoped for when they were launched. The decision to discontinue any show is never easy and we don’t do it lightly. We understand that these decisions affect the lives of good people who gave their best efforts to achieve success; we hope to give many of them the opportunity to transition to new roles elsewhere in our station group.

Taking these steps will enable us to reallocate the resources devoted to these shows to other areas of our broadcasting business, including the further expansion of local news in several markets. This fall we will add a new three-hour local morning newscast at KIAH in Houston and expand PHL Morning News from 90-minutes to three hours at WPHL in Philadelphia. Mornings are a time-period where we have seen growth, and by shifting resources we believe we can better serve our local audiences.

Tribune continues to make strategic investments. We’re also devoting significant capital to improve the infrastructure at many of our stations and their newsrooms. As Peter mentioned, we’ll be building a new set/studio at WDAF in Kansas City, and in Arkansas, we recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art facility for KFSM and KXNW. KFOR’s new stormproof building in Oklahoma City is now complete and nine of our newsrooms kicked off substantial capital improvements in infrastructure, sets and building renovation this year.

We need to work to make these investments pay dividends for our viewers and advertisers, and ultimately for the company. This year, our broadcast group will produce roughly 84,000 hours of local news across our station group. In the last 5 years, we have expanded our news hours by 34 percent, more than any other station group in the U.S. Of our 27 news producing markets with full news operations, 21 of our stations are ranked #1 or #2 in the market among adults aged 25 to 54. Many markets have reached new rating milestones in 2018 through ratings growth and expansion. Finally, Tribune Media continues to be the #1 broadcast group online and one of the top-20 providers of online news in America. Our strength in local news has allowed our sales departments to drive significant share growth in political advertising, helping to offset the softness in the overall core market.

Peter has challenged us to find growth opportunities and improve our businesses while we navigate the current industry trends. To date we can all be proud of our collective performance, and for that I am grateful. As we close out Q3, let’s continue to play offense, focus on innovation and redirect our thinking to find opportunities that make our company better every day. I thank you for your hard work and dedication to your stations and to Tribune Broadcasting.