The CW launching a localized news program at 10 p.m. in February

Originally posted Friday, January 17, 2020 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The CW69 (WUPA-TV) has decided to add a localized news program at 10 p.m. each night starting sometime in February.

The details are still being worked out but anchors, sports and weather will emanate from a studio in New York while a couple of multi-media journalists on the ground in Atlanta will provide reports from the field. It will utilize some of its existing CW69 staff to supplement them, including the station’s community relations director Keisha Lancelin

 The program will also tap resources from CBS’s existing 24/7 local news operations launched last year in different markets

Atlanta is a large market with no shortage of local news. The four other long-standing news operations - ABC affiliate Channel 2 Action news (WSB-TV), Fox 5 (WAGA-TV),  NBC affiliate 11Alive (WXIA-TV) and CBS46 (WGCL-TV) collectively offer more than 200 hours a week of local news and will dwarf WUPA-TV in staff size. 

But Tom Canedo, general manager of WUPA-TV, said there is a demand from advertisers for a news show on his station, especially categories such as politics and automobiles. CW69 is owned by CBS itself. Confusingly, Meredith owns the local  CBS affiliate CBS46. 

CBS is doing something similar at CW stations in Tampa and Detroit, according Broadcasting & Cable. Florida and Michigan - along with Georgia - are all considered battleground states for the 2020 election and expecting million in TV ads from candidates this year. 

Canedo said he always wanted to have a local news operation but it was prohibitively expensive to launch. With the use of technology, they have figured out a way to do so that works within the station’s budget. 

Mark Shavin, a Georgia State University lecturer in media who has worked at various Atlanta TV stations, said developing a truly local TV station news operation takes serious bucks and a robust staff. This effort seems more like an effort to capture election-year ads. Even if the station does funnel those ad dollars into building a more competitive-sized staff, “they face stiff competition.” 

At 10 p.m., CW69 will be directly competing against both WATL-TV’s newscast (using sister station 11Alive staff) and Fox 5’s 10 p.m. newscast. 

CBS has a duopoly news operation in New York that will create the Atlanta program. 

Last month, the CW posted one full time and one part-time MMJ position on job boards, fueling speculation they were going to provide some local news soon

CB Hackworth, who most recently worked at CBS46, said the CW69 audience is far younger than the other broadcast networks. “That actually is potentially a good platform for news if it is done differently,” he said. But he isn’t exactly optimistic about its prospects. 

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About the Author

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