News hounds at Chris-Craft/United TV stations KCOP Los Angeles and WWOR New York may be taken to the pound after News Corp. gets FCC approval to acquire Chris-Craft/United’s 10 stations.
Rumors abound that KCOP’s and WWOR’s news teams, which each produce infocasts once a day at 10 p.m., will be axed as soon as the end of June.
While a News Corp. insider confirmed that the company is evaluating the option of closing down the two local news operations, the source said it would not happen that quickly.
Once approved, the acquisition will give News Corp., which already has Fox-owned stations KTTV in Los Angeles and WNYW in Gotham, duopolies in the top two markets.
In both cities, the primetime Chris-Craft newscasts compete with those on the Fox stations.
In Los Angeles, hourlong, 10 p.m. news has been a four-horse race for more than a decade, with Tribune’s KTLA usually neck-and-neck with KTTV for the lead in the ratings. Young Broadcasting’s KCAL, which technically has a three-quarter-hour news at 10, and KCOP tend to follow.
In Gotham, WWOR plays against WNYW and Trib’s WPIX at 10.
News Corp. is pushing the FCC to greenlight its Chris-Craft purchase by week’s end. Otherwise, approval may have to wait as new commissioners get up to speed.
Public interest groups have agitated against the agency’s expanding a waiver that would allow News Corp. to keep the two Gotham stations plus the New York Post. However, execs seem confident the deal will pass muster initially without any drama. Fox has already agreed to sell a station in Salt Lake City.
Once the merger is official, Wall Streeters expect some active station swapping between Fox and Viacom that will give each a handful of additional duopolies.