Your Hometown News–From Someplace Else

SYRACUSE, N.Y.–Cinefest wraps up today with a few more surprises–although the biggest bomb was dropped last night outside the screening room.
One of the regulars here, an ad sales veteran who has worked in broadcast television for years, happened to mention how hard the economy has hammered local New York TV stations. Case in point: the news team at two Syracuse network affiliates–the CBS and NBC local stations–have begun to share staffs, including on-air personnel, with rival stations in other parts of the country.
It’s not exactly breaking news–Mediaweek reported this nearly three weeks ago–it was just news to me.
They call it a “shared service agreement.” Basically, the news broadcast at the Granite-owned CBS affiliate in Syracuse, WTVH-TV, is operated from the studios of the Barrington-owned NBC affiliate in Peoria, Ill., WSTM. Sales and promotional resources also went to Peoria. The flip worked the other way with two other stations.
The result was that 40 positions were eliminated at WTVH, one of the oldest affiliates in the United States, dating back to 1948. After 60 years, goodbye local weatherguy, sports guy, etc.
It’s a bit like the Yankees and the Red Sox sharing players to save money on the road. CBS and NBC have never been that cozy.
My immediate thought: if CBS and NBC can team up to save cash, how quickly will CTV and Global, who both claim carrying local newscasts is killing them? If the CRTC won’t sign off on their dump local newscasts plan, how soon will they jump on this kind of a “shared service agreement”?

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