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Fox, NBC pact for local news service

Joint venture to start in Philadelphia this Jan.

Fox and NBC are teaming up in several markets to form a new local news service.

The joint venture will kick off this January in Philadelphia, where NBC’s and Fox’s owned-and-operated stations already have been sharing newsgathering resources on an experimental basis since the summer.

After that, Fox Television Stations and NBC Local Media plan to roll out similar partnerships in other markets where they both own stations, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

Pact was announced Thursday by Fox TV Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and NBC Local Media prexy John Wallace.

Under the arrangement, the two companies will share newsgathering and transmission resources — including equipment, personnel and even helicopters. Each station will contribute several crews, who will then be assigned events to cover by an assignment manager.

The stations will still independently decide how to use the material in their own newscasts. News stories that require reporters still will be handled individually by the stations.

“By pooling resources to provide video coverage of general market events, we can ensure our stations are covering the news of the day,” Wallace said. “At the same time, we can focus our efforts on the type of specialized reporting that defines our brands and differentiates our stations within their communities.”

According to Abernethy, Fox and NBC are also talking to other station groups about joining the venture as well.

“We’ll still be competing aggressively from an editorial perspective, but at the same time we’ll work together on basic stuff,” Abernethy said. “Over time as we add stations there will be (cost-savings) opportunities, primarily on equipment. But the real cost savings come from an opportunity to scale this out among the stations.”

Fox and NBC are already partners on the online video service Hulu.

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