Fox-owned UPN affiliate KCOP Los Angeles will move its flagship evening newscast from an hour at 10 p.m. to a half-hour at 11 p.m., starting June 3.
Although the move means cutting the newscast in half, a spokeswoman for the Fox Television Stations said it will not trigger major layoffs at either KCOP or its sister station, Fox’s KTTV Los Angeles. “The change will have very little impact on our current staffing,” she said.
Development marks the first major shift of a newscast out of the way of its new sibling since News Corp.’s acquisition of the major-market Chris-Craft stations closed last year. Deal, which included former Chris-Craft station KCOP, created duopolies for Fox in Los Angeles and Gotham, among other markets.
KCOP and sister Fox station KTTV will continue to have their own news staffs, headed by Larry Perret and Jose Rios, respectively. Lauren Sanchez and Rick Chambers will anchor KCOP’s 11 p.m. program weekdays, and Gina Silva and Kent Ninomiya will continue to anchor weekends.
Off-net sitcoms at 10
KCOP will broadcast off-network sitcoms during the 10 p.m. hour.
KCOP and KTTV both have produced hourlong infocasts at 10 p.m. for several years, competing against KTLA’s hour and KCAL’s 45-minute program at 10.
KCOP’s shifted newscast will be the first addition to the 11 p.m. news race in recent history. KNBC traditionally leads the ratings race at 11, followed closely by KABC and not so closely by KCBS.
KCOP’s 11 p.m. newscast likely will continue in the vein of the 10 p.m. program, which serves as an alternative to the more traditional infocasts against which it competes.
KTLA news director Jeff Wald, who spent more than five years in the early 1990s as exec director of news at KCOP, told Daily Variety the news of the shakeup took him by “much surprise.” Nonetheless, he said he’s glad to hear it, not only because his station will compete against one less outlet at 10, but because it means the news operations are staying intact.
“That’s significant right now, as you hear around the country stations saying they see news as expendable,” Wald said. “It’s always good to hear a station is keeping a newscast rather than one is going away.”