11Alive keeps WATL-TV 7 p.m. newscast after Handel/Ossoff race

This was posted by Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

In early May, the NBC affiliate 11Alive decided to add a special 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station WATL-TV. Two sources at the station said last month it was to accommodate the crazy influx of TV ads related to the hotly contested Sixth District House race between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff.

Those sources said the plan was to end the newscast after the runoff, which happened June 20.

Now 11Alive has decided to keep the newscast going. Why?

John Deushane, the general manager, in an email Friday declined to explain. Last month, he didn't respond to my inquiry about the new newscast.

Today, he noted that he had never confirmed why the newscast was started in the first place, that what I wrote last month was merely speculation. At the same time, he never said it was wrong or demanded a correction. He told me today to just feel free to speculate more. So here ya go: the only logical explanation is Tegna (which owns 11Alive and WATL) is now making more money airing a newscast than a repeat of "The Andy Griffith Show" so management has chosen to keep it.

One good thing for viewers: the WATL-TV newscast the only local one available at 7 p.m., which is useful for people who arrive home a little later. The station is dubbed The ATL.

[UPDATE: On Saturday, he said the election was not the only reason they added the 7 p.m. newscast, finally acknowledging that it was indeed a reason, if not the only one. The exact text message he wrote: "I never said it was just for the election. That was your surmise."]

[UPDATE 2: Early Sunday morning, Deushane emailed me this: "I NEVER said the runoff was the reason...Not sure where you're continuing to come up with that except in an attempt to validate your original story. As I said, it's putting a newscast in a time period where none exists." In other words, he said my sources were plain wrong, that they were creating suppositions where none existed.]

WXIA-TV used to air a 7 p.m. newscast for several years but dropped it in early 2015 for "Wheel of Fortune."

Previously, the 7 p.m. hour on WATL had been repeats of the classic Mayberry show.

Fans of Barney and Opie and the rest of the gang can still watch repeats at 7:30 p.m. after the newscast.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.