The morning news wars will heat up this summer when KTTV and KTLA enter the 6 -7 a.m. fray alongside the three Los Angeles network stations.

Both KTLA and KTTV Tuesday confirmed they would create “hard” one-hour newscasts in the early-morning hour this summer.

KTLA general manager Greg Nathanson said the Tribune indie is taking the step to improve the ratings lead-in for its popular 7-9 a.m. “Morning News” show.

But the move also helps still the thunder from Fox-owned KTTV, which is expected to announce today that it will go head-to-head with KTLA for three hours each weekday morning. Nathanson, incidentally, last served as president of the Fox O&Os.

KTTV, under the direction of general manager Tom Capra, will come out of the gate June 21 with its local news and information morning block — a hard news program from 6-7 and a lighter show, somewhat along the lines of the “Morning News,” from 7-9.

The “Fox Morning News” broadcast will be followed by the two-hour “Good Day L.A.,” which will be anchored by vet broadcast journalist Susan Lichtman (who has been working as a general assignment reporter for the station since February after coming from NBC O&O WTVJ-TV in Miami), former “NBC Nightside” and WTVJ anchor Antonio Mora and “Fox News at 10″ weathercaster Mark Thompson.

Anchoring the new “Fox Morning News” will be Diana Koricke, most recently an NBC News correspondent, and Tony McEwing, who has served as morning and noon news anchor for CBS affil KXTV in Sacramento.

At KTLA, weatherman Mark Kriski and traffic reporter Jennifer York are the only “Morning News” personalities committed so far to the new 6-7 a.m. newscast.

Nathanson declined to say when the new 6-7 program would begin, but noted it would likely not be at the same time as KTTV.

Competition is already intense in the early ayem hours, with the three O&Os vying against one another.

KNBC-TV, which pioneered the local morning news concept in the market, recently expanded itslocal news block a half hour. The three editions of “Today in L.A.” now begin at 5:30 a.m.

The newscasts are seeking to capture early-rising working professionals, a demo coveted by advertisers. But station execs acknowledge that there are only a limited amount of rating points available during the pre-dawn hours.

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