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Nov 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Longtime news director Deborah Johnson is no longer with Meredith-owned WFSB-TV, Hartford, Conn.’s CBS affiliate. In mid-November station General Manager Elden Hale notified the staff that the 17-year veteran had left. “The news department required a new vision and direction,” he said in a memo. She was one of the last news directors to depart after Meredith’s President Kevin O’Brien joined in late 2001 and began his purge of general managers and news directors. Greenville, S.C.’s WHNS-TV Fox affiliate, another Meredith station, let go its General Manager Ray Mirabella. He has been replaced by Dick Williams, who has served as an interim general manager for Meredith for the past year, working with Nashville’s WSMV-TV and Atlanta’s WGCL-TV in that capacity. He will return to WSMV once a replacement is named for the Greenville station.
Health pilot nixed
Tribune’s deal with Walgreens to produce a weekly half-hour health program for WGN-TV in Chicago and WGN Superstation fell through because the show didn’t work for either party. “We couldn’t come to a mutually acceptable pilot that maintained our editorial standards and delivered for them what they wanted,” said Gary Weitman, a Tribune spokesperson. “We tried to put this show together, and in this instance it didn’t work for either [party].” The contract allowed both parties to walk away if they could not reach an acceptable pilot, he said. Tribune still has a multimillion-dollar multimedia agreement with Walgreens for advertising across all platforms.
Less news in Detroit
After a little more than a year of producing local news, Detroit’s bottom feeder WWJ-TV, a CBS owned-and-operated station, is exiting the news game, while its Viacom duopoly partner WKBD-TV plans to outsource news production to a competitor. “It’s economics. CBS was losing money on it, and the amount of money to make it profitable would be huge,” said a source close to the CBS affiliate. WWJ will replace its 11 p.m. newscast with “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Detroit’s ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV, a Scripps-Howard station, will produce the 10 p.m. news hour for UPN affiliate WKBD-TV beginning Dec. 4. The new show, which will air on WKBD but originate from WXYZ, will be called “UPN Detroit Action News.”
WBNS and CBS re-sign
CBS has signed a new long-term, multiyear affiliation agreement with its Columbus, Ohio, affiliate, WBNS-TV, owned by the Dispatch Broadcast Group. WBNS-TV is the top-rated station in Columbus in news, prime time, access, afternoon and morning, according to CBS. The station has been a CBS affiliate for 53 years.