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Aug 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

California News Service setting up shop
At a time when California’s BayTV and Orange County NewsChannel are folding, several notable CNN alumni are starting up Sacramento-based California News Service. It will be the first regional cable news network in the state. CNS CEO Ken Chamberlain, former CNN vice president in charge of CNN’s New York bureau, said there is no launch date yet, but they’re aiming for November. Former CNN Executive Vice President Ed Turner is CNS’s president, and CNN Headline News creator Ted Kavanau is vice president of news production. Former KABC-TV general manager-turned-talent agent Terry Crofoot is vice president of network operations.
CNS is looking at establishing the facility in downtown Sacramento, one block from the state Capitol. “Our thinking is it’s time there was some presence right in downtown so that we can bring in state senators, assemblymen and the governor,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “None of the local stations [outside Sacramento] have bureaus in Sacramento, so political reporting in California is very weak.”
CNS is currently working on signing up broadcast affiliates for content-sharing partnerships and is also negotiating to get on various cable systems. “We’re going to allow local cable operators to brand this,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “They’re also going to have five-minute windows every half-hour to do local inserts, such as a community calendar or a mini-newscast. It makes it a very, very local service.”
CNS plans to have two separate newscasts for the Northern and Southern parts of the state, but some programs will be aired in the entire state. About 75 staffers will have to be hired for the network, which will be in a digital facility with desktop editing and computer servers. CNS last week signed a deal with the Associated Press in which the AP will provide text, video, graphics and a news-production system called ENPS. The Dan Devlin Design Group will design the set, which will have some virtual elements. “There is a strong appetite for what we consider more sophisticated, grown-up news programming,” Mr. Chamberlain said.
Fox’s KRIV makes sweeping changes
As of Aug. 6, Fox-owned KRIV-TV, Houston, has been adding a half-hour to its midday newscasts, which now begin at noon instead of 12:30 p.m. KRIV has also unveiled new graphics and music, and a new tag line-“News That Works for You.” The station also began a partnership with the weekly Houston Business Journal and the monthly Inside Houston magazine. The Houston Business Journal hired KRIV’s per diem reporter Greg Groogan, who now keeps an office at both locations and will attend editorial meetings at both. His business segment will be co-branded “Houston Business Journal/Fox Business Report” and will air at least once a day on KRIV. The station will also co-brand its food segment “Inside Houston/Fox26 Fab Food Finds,” where Inside Houston’s publisher/editor, Laurette Veres, will show viewers the best food finds once a week. “Part of my strategy is that in our drive to put on compelling local content, these are creative ways in which we can get that done-by seeking out others whose business it is to generate that type of content,” said KRIV General Manager D’Artagnan Bebel.
Hoffman joins WVIT-TV as president, GM
Mark Hoffman will become president and general manager of NBC-owned WVIT-TV, Hartford, Conn., in September. He is currently vice president and managing editor of CNBC, setting the editorial direction for the network’s daytime programming. Prior to joining CNBC, he spent 15 years in local television, including working as general manager of KDNL-TV in St. Louis and news director at KNBC-TV, Los Angeles. He fills the vacancy at WVIT left by Tom O’Brien, who went to NBC-owned KXAS-TV, Dallas, in June.
Karissa S. Wang can be reached by phone at 323-370-2430, via e-mail at kwang@crain.com or by fax at 323-653-4425.