Pittsburgh's Changing TV News Landscape
WPXI (NBC/Cox) in Pittsburgh has hired WPGH/Fox 53's Alby Oxenreiter as Channel 11 prepares to take over the 10 O'clock news duties on the Sinclair station on January 30. Oxenreiter is one of the lucky WPGH staffers with a new job as Sinclair dismisses its news employees and shuts down the Channel 53 newsroom.
Oxenreiter (who's married to Channel 11's Karen Wells) will do the sports for the 10 o'clock show while WPXI's John Fedko will keep doing his shtick at 6:25 & 11:25 (so far after the meter clicks why bother).
Cox & Sinclair call the move a partnership despite the fact the two stations have competed with each other in news and programming. It's really outsourcing, unless there's some other kind of deal in the works?
Another Interesting Development
I think it's also odd that this cross-competitor arrangement comes right before Time-Warner and Viacom announced the merger of the WB Network and UPN and create "The CW" network (CBS meets Time Warner) launching in September.
Currently in Pittsburgh WPGH (Sinclair) operates the WB Affiliate (Channel 22/WCWB) while KDKA (Viacom/CBS O&O) operates Channel 19/WNPA (UPN) where it does a 10 o'clock newscast. The merger means WNPA is "The CW" station in town. Channel 22 is left without a network affiliate when the deal goes through. But Sinclair is at least positioned with cheap, local outsourced news to weather the shake up. "The CW" announcement actually sent Sinclair stock tumbling.
Makes me wonder if WPXI (Cox) might be positioning itself to take over WPGH as WPXI is building a new station and tower in the same neighborhood with WPGH. Coincidence?
BTW: I predicted 53 would take the ax to its news department when it brought Jeff Alan on board to manage things. He has a serious history of shutting down news operations from Missouri to Texas. I remember I was in St. Louis a few years ago when Jeff Alan was the hatchet man on duty when Sinclair shutdown its newsroom at ABC affiliate KDNL.